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At the first sound of the bell, the villagers hastened to the Church : " Let tu 
go," they cried out, " let us go to hear our saint that loves us, and that smooth* 
our path to heaven > " TANNOIA S MEMOIRS. 

" Would that sweet spirit, Saint Alfonso, have been half as lax, had he ben 
but half so holy ? " FABEB. 

"Lord, Thou knowest that all I have thought, said, done, and written, ha 
been for souls and for Thee." ST. ALPHOXSUB. 






ENTERED according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874 by 


the Cterfr Office of the District Court of the United States for tka 
Southern District of New York. 




-> ir 

t. JUf0tts0, 









Having submitted to a careful examination the works, original 
and translated, of a member of the Order of Mercy residing in our 
diocese, we cordially and earnestly recommend them to the faithful 

under our charge. 

Archbishop of New Orleans, La. 

NEW ORLEANS, January 10, 1873. 

The book entitled " Life of St. Alphonsus Liguori," by amember of 
the Order of Mercy, authoress of "The Life of Catharine McAuley," 
etc., having been carefully examined by learned priests, who have 
given me a perfectly satisfactory account of it, I recommend it to 
all classes of readers, as useful both to the members of the clergy 
and to the faithful at large. 

*fr N. J. PERCHE, 
Archbishop of New Orleans, La. 

We cheerfully concur in the above approbation of the most Rev. 
Archbishop Perch!. 

ifi AUG. MARIA, Bishop of Natchitoches, La. 

* WILLIAM HENRY, Bishop of Natchez, Miss. 
iii JOHN QUINLAN, Bishop of Mobile, Ala. 

4< C. M. DUBUIS, Bishop of Galveston, Texas. 

ifi EDWARD FITZGERALD, Bishop of Little Rock, Ark, 

if) JAMES F. WOOD, Bishop of Philadelphia, Pa. 

{< S. H. ROSENCRANS, Bishop of Columbus. 

ifi R. GILMOUR, Bishop of Cleveland, O. 

ifi JOHN, Archbishop of New York. 

iii LOUIS DE GOESBRIAND, Bishop of Burlington. 

ifi JOHN J. CONROY, Bishop of Albany, N. Y. 

4 W. O HARA, Bishop of Scranton, Pa. 

* LOUIS M. FINK, Coad. of Vicar Apostolic of Kansas, 
|. JOHN, Bishop of Brooklyn. 

(|i WILLIAM, Bishop of Scranton. 

vi Approbations. 

RICHMOND, January 12, 1873. 

I cheerfully unite with the most Rev. Archbishop Perclie , in 
recommending to the Catholic public the new life of St. Alphonsus, 
written by a Sister of Mercy, and carefully examined by two 
learned priests of New Orleans. 

Bishop of Richmond, Va., and Administrator 
Apostolic of North Carolina. 

SAVANNAH, August 21, 1873. 

It affords me very great pleasure to unite with Monseigneur 
Perch e in recommending to the public the Life of the latest Doc 
tor of the Universal Church, St. Alphonsus Liguon just written 
by a Sister of Mercy. 


Bishop of Savannah. 

With full confidence in the judgment of the most Rev. Arch 
bishop of New Orleans, and the priests deputed by him to examine 
the aforesaid work, I earnestly concur in recommending it to the 
Catholic public. 


Bishop of Wheeling. 

I yield very willingly to the request to add my name to the fore 
going approbations of a good book. 

Hh J. B. PURCELL, D. D., 

Archbishop of Cincinnati, O. 

A new Life, in the English language, of the great Saint, illus- 
tiious missionary, and eminent Doctor of these modern times, can 
not fail to prove exceedingly interesting to every lover of our Holy 
Church, and it affords me great pleasure to recommend it to the 


Bishop of St. Augustine, Fla, 

I take great pleasure in recommending to Catholics the " Life of 
St. Alphonsus Liguori," written by a Religious of the illustrious 
Order of Mercy, and approved by the learned Archbishop of New 

Bishop of Louisville. 

Approbations. vii 

From the approbation given by the most Rev. Archbishop and 
suffragan Bishops of the Archdiocese and Province of New Or 
leans, I have no hesitation in recommending the "Life of St. 
Alphonsus Liguori," by a member of the Order of Mercy, and 
authoress of the "Life of Catharine McAuley," etc., as a work 
edifying and instructive both to clergy and people. 

Bishop of Buffalo, N. Y. 

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 12, 1873. 

Any good work on St. Alphonsus should be dear to every 
Catholic; I therefore take great pleasure in giving my approbation 
to the Life of the Saint, by a Member of the Order of Mercy, 
authoress of the " Life of Catharine McAuley," etc., relying on the 
recommendations it has received from the learned and most worthy 
Archbishop of New Orleans, and other high dignitaries. 

Archbishop, San Francisco. 

MARYSVILLE, CAL., Sept. 27, 1873. 

You honor me highly by asking my approbation of your 
forthcoming " Life of St. Alphonsus Liguori," the last, but not the 
least illustrious Doctor of the Catholic Church. Let me assure 
you, dear sister, that I hail your Life of St. Alphonsus as much as 
I do the admirable "Vindication" of his Theology by the 
Redemptorist Fathers ; convinced as I am that both these works 
will put the great Doctor s sanctity and learning in a clearer light, 
and promote throughout this country the devotions which your 
favorite Saint had so much at heart, 
I remain, dear sister, 

Your obliged servant in Christ, 


Bishop of Marysville. 

viii Approbations. 

Extract from a letter to the Authoress, approving the "Life of St. 

ST. JOSEPH, Mo., Oct. 25, 1873. 


I hope your book will soon be out of press. I could not 
hesitate to write my name in recommendation of anything coming 
from your pen ; for you have already very much surprised and 
edified myself and many others by your successful labors, in which 
I am glad to learn that you are persevering. I have read all your 
books, and some of them several times over. 
I remain, 

Your most devoted servant in Chri>% 

Bishop of St. JoseplL 


THE great bishop of St. Agatha appears wonder 
ful, even among the Saints of God, yet it would 
scarcely be possible to select a biography more 
instructive, and even interesting, to readers of 
every class and condition. A transcendent 
model for laymen, priests, religious and secular, 
superiors of communities, and rulers in the 
Church of God ; a man who was a hero to his 
valet, of whom his own officials affirmed that 
" a hundred bishops would not do what he 
did alone;" of whom Clement XIV said, when 
refusing to accept his resignation of the mitre : 
" He can govern the diocese from his bed ; his 
very shadow is sufficient to govern it ; " a mis 
sionary through whom the Holy Ghost spoke so 
forcibly that some of his auditors actually died 
of the grief and contrition his burning words 
inspired ; a Founder, whose sons still recall to 
our minds his lineaments, and, thanks to God, 
his virtues, his contagious simplicity, his ardent 
love for the Blessed Sacrament ana the Blessed 
Mother ; a contemplative who passed whole 
nights kneeling absorbed before his Love ; an 
author who has enriched Catholic theology with 
over a hundred works, sufficient to earn for 

x Preface. 

many a well-merited immortality ; a scholar 
who has quoted in his writings nearly eight hun 
dred Christian authors Italian, Spanish, German, 
Irish, English, Scotch, African, and American ; a 
preacher whose zeal never flagged, who was often 
known to preach several times a day ; a con 
fessor who was always the first to enter the 
confessional and the last to leave it ; and, most 
wonderful of all, a man who, having lived over 
ninety years, " returned to his Creator, without 
a spot, the stole of innocence he had received 
in baptism," as the acts of his canonization 

When we add his many foundations, missions 
given and repeated in almost every town and 
hamlet in the kingdom of Naples, innumerable 
souls guided in the higher paths of the spiritual 
life, conventual and educational establishments 
founded or reformed, we may well revert to the 
marvellous industry of the earlier monastic 
founders, which our saints alone have been able 
to rival in modern times, to Columbanus, who 
ordained that his monks should go to rest so 
fatigued as to fall asleep on the way, and get up 
Defore they had slept enough ; for, what was 
the whole life of our saint but an heroic and 
successful effort to keep religiously the appalling 
vow by which he bound himself never to waste a 
moment of time. 

This work, undertaken through obedience, has 
been for us a labor of love and devotion. It is 
hoped that it will become, if we may so speak, a 
popular life of the great Doctor, the size and price 
of which will place it within the reach of the multi 
tude. In its preparation, we have used " Tan- 
noia s Memoirs," Cardinal Villecourt s " Vie et 
Institul de Saint Alphonse," " The Oratorian Life 
of Saint Alfonso," A Life of Saint Alphonso by a 

Preface. xi 

Redemptorist Father, Life of the Saint, by Rispoli, 
the rule, the letters, and other works of the Saint, 
most of which have not yet appeared in 

We give, as an appropriate introduction, the 
admirable Etude entitled MERCY AND LOVE, 
published by Leon Gautier, in L Univers, on the 
publication of Cardinal Villecourt s Life of our 
Saint, in 1863. 

Ff cut of St. Alphonsus, 1873. 



Introduction 31 


Characteristics of St. Alphonsus. Antiquity and nobility of 
his family. Piety of his parents. Birth of Alphonsus. 
His brothers and sisters. Childhood of the saint. Remark 
able prediction of St. Francis Jerome, S. J. Singular 
coincidence I 


Early education of Alphonsus. His first steps in piety. 
Father Tannoia s reminiscences of Madame Liguori. 
Alphonsus as a boy. With the Oratorians. He attains to 
sublime prayer. Remarkable incident 5 


Studies of Alphonsus. His musical and poetical talents. 
Painting and architecture. Evidences of his general knowl 
edge of liberal arts and sciences. His success in jurispru 
dence. He receives the degree of doctor. His exploits at 
the chase, and fowling. Lost time. Increasing solicitude 
of his mother. His love and gratitude towards her 1 1 


Success of Alphonsus at the bar. The rules which guided him. 
His pious practices. His retreats. His love of purity. 
His love for the congregation of St. Philip. The edification 
he gave to all who knew him. Conversion of a Moorish 
slave. Motive of his conversion. His happy death 18 

xiv Contents. 


Matrimonial projects. Teresina Liguori. Birth of her broth- 
er and consequent alteration in her prospects. Negotia 
tions abandoned and renewed. Indignation of the young 
princess. She enters a convent. Alphonsus becomes her 
biographer. Indiscretion of our saint on one occasion. 
Anger of his father. Humility of the son. Cooling of his 
fervor. Testimony of Charles Cito. Retreat. Terrible 
incident. Effect on Alphonsus. His devotion to the Blessed 
Sacrament. His zeal for decorating altars. His gratitude 
to his friend, the Duke of Casabona, and to the Fathers of 
the Mission. Interesting letter 23 


Retreat of Alphonsus and his father. Effect on the latter. 
Another matrimonial project. The interrupted duet. Al 
phonsus gains his mother to his side. The lost cause. 
Emotions of Alphonsus. Measures of his parents. His 
resolutions. His opinion of the legal profession. Why he 
renounced it 31 


Alphonsus begins to lead a life of occlusion. The anguish of 
his father. Alphonsu* refuses to tiansact the legal business 
of his family. 1 he birthday of the Empress Isabella. 
Supernatural favor. rJinai renunciation of the world. 
Favorite church of our saint. His devotion to Our Lady of 
Mercy. During his last visit to Naples he makes a novena 
in her church. He acknowledges his indebtedness to the 
Mother of Mercy 37 


Evening of the memorable day. Remark of Father Pagano. 
Fervor of his penitent. He remains three days without 
food. Interior lights. Holy impatience of the youth. His 
father endeavors to persuade him to resume his profession. 
i irmness of the saint. Scenes between father and son 
which disturb domestic tranquillity 41 

Contents. xv 


The parents. Former friends. Maio changes his opinions. 
Domini Bruno. Newer and truer friends. Cheering 
prophecy. Zeal of our saint for little children. Contrast 
between Don Alphonsus the successful lawyer, and Alphon- 
sus the catechiser of little ones 47 


Alphonsus applies himself to ecclesiastical studies. He seeks 
the society of the most eminent churchmen. His hymns be 
come popular. He becomes more austere. He receives the 
tonsure and is ordained subdeacon. New occupations. He 
joins the congregation of the mission. The rules he observed 
as a candidate for the priesthood. His first sermon. Illness. 
Miraculous recovery. Rules fora priest 50 


Popularity of Alphonsus as a preacher. Remark of Capasso 
the satirist. The count hears his son preach. He is deeply 
affected. Pious practices of our saint. Mode of life. He 
unconsciously forms the plan of the Congregation of the 
Most Holy Redeemer. He begins to hear confessions, 
His extraordinary gentleness. Striking conversions. Our 
saint as a confessor 58 


Conferences. Our saint s audiences. Other priests take part in 
the good work. What is new, not necessarily wrong. The 
cutlets. A captain of the Royal Guard mystified. The 
governor orders the arrest of preachers and auditors. The 
order executed. Alphonsus appeals to the Cardinal. False 
reports. Good effected. Fervent disciples 68 


Barbarese continues the work of the conferences. Reminis 
cences of Brother Angiolo. The seed bears fruit. Senti 
ments of our saint. Exercises of his penitents. He estab 
lishes a school for women. Labors in the hospital. Exer 
cises for the patients. Perseverance of Barbarese. Meeting 
between him and Alphonsus. Death of this good man. 
Death of Nardone 73 

xvi Contents. 


The Chinese College. Alphonsus in his new abode Priva 
tions and Penances. Spiritual dryness and obscurity. Zeal 
for souls. Father Ripa s testimony. Extraordinary gifts of 
Alphonsus as a confessor. His penitent Mary. Incessant 
labors of Alphonsus. The epidemic of 1731. Illness of our 
saint. The earthquake of La Pouille 78 


Our Lady of Foggia. The apparition. Alphonsus preaches a 
novena. Success. Our Lady appears to him. Picture of 
the Vision. Alphonsus visits Mount Gargano. He is repri 
manded by Canon Torni. His sweetness and gentleness.. 86 


Alphonsus retires to Amain. Proposal of the Vicar of Scala. 
Alphonsus and his companions evangelize shepherds and 
goatherds. Sermon 89 


Conflicting sentiments. Opinions of Pagano. Cutica and 
Manulio agree with him. Opposition. Gizzio and Torni. 
Others deride our Saint. The nun of Scala, Sister Celestina. 
A miracle. Father Fiorillo. His letter to Alphonsus. 
Embarrassment of our saint. He shows the letter. Letter 
of Mgr. Falcoia 94 


Fathers Pagano and Fiorillo decline the direction of Alphon 
sus. Alphonsus places himself under the guidance of Mgr. 
Falcoia. Canon Torni endeavors to shake the resolution of 
Alphonsus. Retreat for the clergy. Missions. Letter. 
First disciples of Alphonsus 104 


The germs of the new Congregation. The missionaries in 
Scala. Touching incidents. Penitential life of the mission 
aries. Alphonsus signalizes himself even among saintly 
men. Pious customs he introduces. Consoling letter of 
Canon Torni. New persecutions. The Archbishop defends 
the saint. The flame of resentment is arrested but not ex 
tinguished. Gratitude of Alphonsus towards his defenders . 109 

Contents. xvii 

The severest trial yet. Odd proposals. Firmness of the saint. 
Withdrawal of Mandarini. Lett :r. Modest proposal of 
Mandarini. Secession. Glief of St. Alphcnsus. Freezing 
reception accorded by Bishop Falcoia. Temptations. Ter- 
k ific struggle. The pulpits resound with anathemas. De 
serted by all. In Naples. At Scala again Il6 


The grotto near Scala. Prospects brighten. Don Xavier Ros 
si. A foundation after the saint s own heart. An incident. 
Father Mazzini. Loss of a novice. The wonders of the 
Thebaid renewed. Tosquez becomes a financier. Mandarini 
endeavors to make reparation 124 


Alphonsus preaches the Lent in the cathedral of Scala. Sin 
gular incident. Reception of the Fathers at Ciorani. Abun 
dant fruits of that mission. Retreat for the nobles. Villani 
joins the Congregation. Trials 131 


Imprudent suggestion of Don Andrew Sarnelli. Evil conse 
quences. The Archbishop defends Alphonsus. Terrific in 
cident. Extraordinary success of the mission at Naples. 
Interesting conversion. Mission at Santa Lucia. Violent 
persecutions. Punishment of the persecutors 137 


Another mission. Apparition of our Lady to Alphonsus. 
Castellamare. The new house at Ciorani. Scala relin 
quished. Regret of the inhabitants. The rain at Aquarola. 
-Priests. " The Apostle." Wonderful cure. The stand 
ard-bearer of the Redemptorist Order. Alphonsus writes 
his epitaph 143 


Mission in Naples. Disagreeable incident. Firmness of the 
cardinal. Alphonsus s Christmas hospitality. Father Ca- 
faro becomes a Redemptorist. Proposals of the cardinal. 
Rejected by the saint He is mistaken for the cook. His 
unselfishness. Renewal of missions. He originates the 
Novenas previous to our Lady s feasts. 150 

xviii Contents. 


The saint resolves to form his disciples into a regular commu 
nity. Reasons. Withdrawal of Father Majorino. His let 
ter. Poverty. Ecclesiastical Dignities. Obedience. Vow 
of Stability. Dispensation. The saint leaves Naples. 
Father Sarnelli replaces him. Interview with the Cardinal. 
He returns to Ciorani 156 


The House at Pagani. Humiliations. Ambition of Count 
Joseph for his son. Edifying letter. A new foundation. 
Miracle. Wonderful fruits of the mission. The Blessed 
Virgin sends a sinner to Father Liguori 161 


Obedience of Father Rossi. A welcome postulant. The saint 
is summoned to Naples. His father comes to Ciorani to 
enter as a lay-brother. The saint dissuades him. Persecu 
tion in Nocera. Alphonsus appeals to Mgr. Falcoia. St. 
Michael. Death of Bishop Falcoia 167 


The enemies of the Congregation. Its friends. The wicked 
triumph, but not forever. Cantaldi s sister. Pope Bene 
dict XIV charges Cardinal Spinelli to inquire into the affairs 
of the Congregation. Advice of Mgr. Dominicis. His 
death. His successor 174 


Illiceto. Alphonsus miraculously raised several feet from the 
ground. Early days at Illiceto. Happy death of Brother 
Vitus Curzius. Grief of Alphonsus. New trials. Father 
Sportelli a match for his enemies. Right victorious. 
Might defeated 180 


Missionary project of Benedict XIV. Terrible example. Our 
saint s countenance is radiant with heavenly light. Precious 
death of Count Joseph Liguori. Illness of the saint. A 
liberal benefaction. Gratitude of the founder. He is again 
invited to Foggia. A new foundation. An inhospitable 
noble. The saint sees from one foundation what is done in 
another. Signor Corona. Prophecy fulfilled 186 

Contents. xix 


The foreign comedians. Vision. Our Lady sends a penitent 
to the missionaries. Removal of the Novitiate. Our saint 
begins to publish. His devotion to St. Teresa. His work 
on the episcopacy. An opponent. He refuses the mitre. 
He pleads his cause before the King of Naples. He refuses 
to receive Mandarini. Insults. Instructions on various 
subjects. Sermons 193 


Jhc saint repairs to Naples. Tanucci opposes him. Illness. 
A strange calumny. Renewed efforts to procure the con 
firmation of his institute. Mission. Fortunate circumstance 
for Alphonsus. Incessant labors. He gives a retreat in the 
cathedral. Criticism. Changes suggested. Father Villani 
in Kome. Ruse. Graciousness of the Pope to Father 
Villani 203 


An abbot resigns his mitre to follow Father Liguori. First 
general chapter. Liberality of the gentlemen of Pagani. 
The jubilee at Sarno. Missionary. Precious death of 
Fatnei Sportelli. A beautiful flower on a barren rock. 
"The olories of Mary." Other publications. Sad events. 
Letters 211 


Alphonsus resumes the mission. A new sorrow. Circular 
letter. The saint s reception at Naples. Illness. Another 
annoyance. Reaction. Extraordinary conversions. The 
saint pleads his cause before the king. Insults. His so 
journ in the capital. Prophecy. His moral theology. 
High opinion Pope Benedict XIV held of Alphonsus. Offer 
of the king. Miracle. Death of Father Cafaro 222 


Circular letter. A foundation in the States of the Church. 
Retreat at Ciorani. Discussion. Death of the Countess 
Liguori. Mission at Benevento. Retreat to the Neapolitan 
students. To the servants. Other effects of the saint s 
xeal. New publication 232 

xx Contents. 


The queen-mother consults our saint. Stratagem. Work on 
the confessional. Criticisms. The circus at Amain. Earth 
quake. Nola. The Seminary. Bi-location. The saint 
loses his dear son Rossi. Miracle. Missions to Calabria.. 239 


Reformation of the Royal Hospital of Gaeta. New publica 
tion. The Sicilian mission. The true spouse of Christ. 
The fisherman. The Fathers wrecked. The young Calabri- 
an. His tragic end a fulfilment of Father Liguori s 
prophecy 247 


Alphonsus as a superior. Humility. Health. Preaching. 
Father de Meo s Sybils and Argonauts. Confessors. 
Example of a rigorist. Father Rizzi obliged to apologize for 
an indiscretion. Poverty and obedience. Instruction on 
various matter. Rules for a superior 252 


The Congregation thirty years after its foundation. Saintly 
members. The vacant see at St. Agatha. Father Liguori 
selected to fill it. He declines the honor. His intense love 
for his Congregation. A command from Rome. "The 
voice of the Pope is the voice of God." Terrible agitation of 
the saint. His heroic obedience. He prophesies that he 
will return to die among his brethren. Touching meeting of 
the saint and F. Fatigati. The episcopal ring and cross. 
The saint at Rome 262 


Bishop Liguori leaves Rome. In Naples again. The priest 
of Arienzo. The equipage of the saint. His shoe-buckles. 
At Nocera. His intense grief. His entrance into his dio 
cese. Green pears. The new bishop will not give sumptu 
ous repasts. His rule of life. His circumspectness regard 
ing women of ill repute. Meals 276 

Contents. xxi 


The Lives of the Saints. Pious exercises. The prelate s 
household. The diocese in a lamentable condition. Extra 
ordinary aeal of the saint. His last tooth extracted. He 
officiates pontifically. Sad events. Mildness of the saint. 
His firmness. Funeral of an excommunicated man 283 


Episcopal visitation. The seminary. Judicious regulations 
made by the saint. His rigid discipline. Examples. His 
severe but just censures of Genovesi. He prohibits the use 
of his work in the Seminary 290 


Spiritual exercises of the Seminarists. Mortifications. Vigi 
lance of the saint. The Seminary becomes a model. Liber 
ality to poor students. Solicitude of the saint with reference 
to penance and the Holy Eucharist. The elaborately-curled 
wig straightened out by the saint. Minute regulations. 
Neatness of the churches. Dangerous illness of the bishop. 
Cases of conscience. Confraternities. Mental prayer. 
New books 295 


The saint s mode of progress through his diocese. Apt re 
joinder. He refuses a carriage. Compares himself to a ven 
der of fowls. Kindness to a servant. Accident. Miracu 
lous cure. Magnificent hospitality of the Prince of Riccia. 
"The saint that smooths our way to heaven." The little 
monk. The saint s kindness to children and young people. 
His vigilance. His charity to the poor 303 


Ccunt Hercules Liguori marries a second time, desiring to have 
heirs. Letters. The saint s present to the bride. The 
bridegroom s indignation. Preaching. Sermons. Ecstasy. 
Periodical missions. Rigor more hurtful than indulgence. 
StyLe. Extraordinary meekness of the saint. "Poor 
Jesus Christ." The famine. Heroic charity , 310 

xxii Contents. 


Alphonsus presides at a General Chapter of his Congregation. 
His old opponent Patuzzi again attacks him. Alphonsus 
dedicates his defence to the reigning Pontiff. Want of 
courtesy in Patuzzi. Apology. Proposed synod. Decrees 
issued. New arrangement of parishes 324 


Dangerous illness of the saint. Non recuso laborem. Mir 
acle. The saint refuses to play on the harpsichord. At 
Nocera. Impatient to return to St. Agatha. Letter. Bad 
books. The saint s measures against their circulation. 
His prophecy regarding the Free Masons. Papal Infalli 
bility. The Assembly. Society of Jesus. Circular letter. 
He endeavors to resign 332 


Nuns of the Most Holy Redeemer. Remarks of Archdeacon 
Rainone. The Church of St. Nobody. Sister Mary Raphael 
of Charity. Additions. Grand reception. Our saint s at 
tention to the wants of the Sisters. Success of the new 
foundation. Alphonsus conducts the retreat of the novices. 
Liberality of the saint. His kindness to the Sisters. His 
way with them 342 


Zeal for material temples. New persecutions. "The truth of 
Faith." The saint goes to Naples. His urbanity. His 
episcopal hat. Accident. An easy victory. Apostolic 
labors. The Abbot at Regina Cceli. Christening of the 
saint s nephew. His labors among the lower classes. In 
convents. His sister Lady Marianna Liguori. His mar 
vellous eloquence 35 7 


The saint leaves Naples. His emotion. Letter. Unreason- 
able complaints. Calumnies. Letter to Father Villani. 
Fault finding. The meekest of bishops accused of rigor. 
Incident. Murmurs against his works. His reply. Ill 
ness. He makes his will. Sufferings. His tedious conva 
lescence. The Most Zealous Doctor. New literary labors. 
Treatise for men. He again appeals to the Pope tcr ease 
him of the burden of the episcopate 371 

Contents. xxiii 


The new Pope, Cardinal Ganganelli. The Congregation per 
secuted in Sicily. Interesting letter of the saint. His Moral 
Theology again attacked. Increased alarm of the saint re 
garding his house in Sicily. Incident. Letters. The saint 
refuses to moderate his zeal. Remarkable cure. Accidents. 
" An old carriage, an old coachman, old horses, and an old 
Bishop." Recreations. He resumes the daily celebration 
of mass. Regularity and austerity of his life 383 


Ever increasing zeal of the saint. The Seminary. The Visita 
tion of 1769. The saint does more than a hundred ordinary 
bishops. He defends his Grand Vicar. He is accused to 
the King. Letter. The saint defends his conduct. Reply 
of the King. The saint s conduct towards his calumniator. 
Absurdity of the charges preferred against the bishop 392 


The Count and Countess Liguori visit Alphonsus. Prophec> 
The saint and his god-children. Death of one of his neph 
ews. The bishop comforts the afflicted father. Advice 
regarding the surviving children. Their mother Lady Mart- 
anna loses her senses. Circular letter. Tannucci. New 
troubles in Sicily. Apology of Alphonsus. Maffei s expedi 
ent for regaining popularity. The Fathers leave Sicily. 
Request of the people 397 


Clement XIV refuses to accept the saint s resignation. 
Prophecy. Circular letter. New literary labors. Founda 
tions. Gratitude of the saints. Letters. Work on the 
Psalms. Criticisms. Persecutions. Revolution. His 
grief at the suppression of the Jesuits. He regards it as 
temporary. His sympathy for the Pope. He assists at his 
death-bed. Bilocation proved. The saint requested to 
write the qualifications necessary in the future Pope. He 
complies 406 

xxiv Contents. 


Calumnies against Alphonsus. His Moral Theology censured 
and defended. Violent persecutions. He refuses to go to 
Naples. He prescribes means of obtaining the Divine mer 
cy. He refuses to seek the mediation of a lady. Some 
gleams of sunshine. Good Bishop Lanza. The saint s 
administration. Examples. Testimony of Tannoia. Ex 
traordinary sweetness of the saint. His zeal to prevent the 
slightest faults in priests. His surveillance extends beyond 
his own diocese. The regulars. Vigilance over the laity. 
Anecdote 421 


The saint s zeal to convert women of irregular lives. He es 
tablishes prisons for the incorrigible. He exiles some. An 
objection answered. Examples. He reproves his secre 
tary s remissness. He replenishes the wardrobe of one of 
his protege es. One of the "ninety-nine just" reproaches 
him. Marriages. His care to reserve the innocence of his 
lambs. The gold necklace. The Most Zealous Doctor. 
The office of a bishop. The saint and the amateur actors. 
He will not allow women to be instructed in the priest s 
house. Letter to the king against duelling. Burthen of the 
episcopate. Brother Welcome. The saint s strictness re 
garding the Paschal 433 


Supernatural lights of the saint. Example. Testimony of one 
of his officials. Incident. Persecutions. The saint s good 
ness towards his enemies. His patience. His exquisite 
tenderness of heart. The doctor. Trouble in the episcopal 
kitchen. The saint a hero to his valet. His extraordinary 
meekness and humility. Instances. The saint a thorough 
gentleman. His deference and politeness towards his priests. 
He refuses his likeness to his publisher. Alexis obtains 
it. The device of the Congregation. Episcopal immunities 
not claimed by the saint s household. His deference to 
members of his own Congregation. Father Majone refuses 
to live at St. Agatha 

Contents. xxv 


Wonderful charity towards the poor. The saint s present to 
his sister-in-law. He does not wish her to remain too long 
at his palace. His preference for the poor. The fair at 
Maddalon. Alphonsus s care of the bashful poor. In 
stances. The poor noble. How a bishop should act with re 
gard to giving charity. How the saint acted when poverty 
was an occasion of sin. His privileged poor. His charity to 
pilgrims and strangers. To members of his household. Tes 
timony of an eye-witness. Prisoners. St. Misery. Mario. 
All misfortune appeals to the saint. Letters. Indignation 
of the saint at the imprisonment of one of his servants. 
The smuggler. The Albanian soldiers . . ..... 455 


The saint s hospitality. The archpriest and his companions. 
The bishop s coachman. The saint s disinterestedness. 
Instances. His advice to Bishop Rossi. His dire of the 
episcopal property. His dislike of lawsuits. Letter. His 
elegant courtesy towards the Duke of Maddalon. His efforts 
to improve his lands, &c. His interest in the culture of 
olives, mulberry trees, &c. The raising of silk- worms. He 
beautifies the episcopal gardens 465 


How the saint practised holy poverty. He wears out the old 
clothes of Bishop Danza. He replenishes his wardrobe from 
an old clothes shop. Putting in new sleeves. "Old things 
suit an old bishop." Letter of Don Spota. Why the saint 
practised economy. Details. Opinion of the Bishop of 
Caserto. The saint s episcopal ring. He will use only the 
produce of his own diocese. His mortification. Incident. 
He takes vinegar for wine. Fruit sent to him does not stop 
at its destination. Why he did not keep caged birds. The 
harpsichord. Rubini s testimony ,. 472 


Doubts and fears of the saint as to his resignation of the bishop 
ric. Regret of the people. A general mission. Wonderful 
vigilance of the saint. His resignation accepted. Letter. 
Grief of the clergy. Sentiments of the retiring bishop. Of 
the citizens of Naples. The weight of Mount Taburno re 
moved from the saint s shoulders. The vacant see. Monsig- 
nore Rossi. The pension. Characteristic disinterestedness . 478 

xxvi Contents. 


The saint s last visitation. Touching scene. The art of arts." 
Anecdote. He visits his religious communities. His 
present. Mother Raphael. An alms. The church. Mira 
cle. The saint s departure from St. Agatha. His constant 
residence during his administration. A melancholy ovation. 
Reception in Nola. Miracle. Enthusiastic reception in 
Nocera. Eased of one burden to assume another. Touch 
ing letter. New persecutions. Discipline relaxed. The 
saint endeavors to restore perfect observance. His labors 
among the people. The Carminello. His apartments 487 


New work. Opinion of Bishop Cervone. Other works. 
Letters from Pius VI. Persecutions. Prophecy. Gratui 
tous counsels. Tanucci retires from office. De Leon s 
animosity. His ironical prediction fulfilled. "Time is a 
courteous gentleman." Honor done to the missionaries. 
Letters. Circular. Untimely death of two of the saint s 
persecutors. The Baron of Ciorani ceases to afflict God s 
servants. Alphonsus victorious over all his enemies 498 


The saint s zeal for the houses outside the kingdom. He in 
sists upon each religious having a cell to himself. Letter. 
Favors granted by Pius VI. The saint s solicitude for the 
health of his sons. His great love for them. His endeavors 
to promote perfect charity. He wished superiors to show 
great gentleness towards them. His work on " Fidelity of 
Subjects to their King." Extract. His zeal for the great. 
He destroys letters received from sovereigns. He stirs up 
the zeal of his literary friends. Correspondence with Abbe* 
Nonnote. Voltaire. Conversion of Metastasio 509 


The greatest evils done the Congregation. Efforts of the 
founder. "Edify or go." Family matters. Little Joseph. 
Interesting letter. Death of Count Hercules Liguori. 
Resignation of the saint. Cure of Don Gavotti. The Lady 
Teresa Liguori. Letter. The Lady Antonia Liguori. His 
anxiety about his niece s vocation. His usual advice to noble 
spinsters. Teresa becomes a nun. Her visit to her uncle. 
Her profession. The young Count Joseph 521 

Contents. xxvii 


The severest trials of Alphonsus. The protection afforded the 
Church by the mighty ones of earth. Treachery. The saint 
refuses to be convinced. Letters. Father Villani conceals 
from Alphonsus the treachery of Majone. How the saint 
suffered from his friends. Terrible scene. Profound dejec 
tion of the holy Founder. Letter. Important document. 
Letter to Majone. Astonishing meekness of the saint. Ob 
stinacy of Majone. Unavailing efforts of the saint to restore 
concord. Indignation of his subjects. Alphonsus had fore 
seen all 535 


Alphonsus takes a bold step. He proves that his intellect is as 
sound as ever. Testa begins to relent. A turbulent mem 
ber. A new conspiracy. Stormy scene. The founder in 
vited to resign. His re-election. He is calumniated at 
Rome. Consequences. Action of the Pope. Ingratitude of 
some of the saint s children. F. de Paul coolly accepts the 
office of general. 1 [ypocrisy of Leggio. Resignation of the 
saint. His fearful temptations. His charming frankness... 547 



Alphonsus unconsciously justifies himself. The last touches 
given to his sanctity. The saint displays his most noble 
qualities. His submission to the new rector-major. His 
meekness towards Majone. " Servant of the Church till 
death." The Pope s words absolute. He reads the Life of 
St. Joseph Calasanza. He will not allow his sons to ap 
peal to the king. The respect and obedience he compels 
them to evince towards the Pope 561 


Incessant efforts of the saint to bring about a reunion. He 
appeals to the king, who grants his request. The protection 
accorded by kings. Letter to Leggio. New trials. Arro 
gance of Leggio. Scruple. Division. The Pope calls Al 
phonsus a saint. He does him full justice only after 
death 570 

xxviii Contents. 


Prosperity of the Congregation. Touching letter. Alphon- 
sus utters no reproach. Paroxysms of grief. Heroic con 
fidence in God. He is universally regarded as a saint. 
Petition. Audacity of Leggio. The missionaries acquitted 
by the royal council after nineteen years litigation. Grati 
tude of the saint. The most diabolical of all works. The 
Sicilian subjects choose a general for themselves. The 
Neapolitan Fathers elect a coadjutor for Alphonsus, with 
right of succession. Change of sentiments. The last drop. 
Perfect submission. The German house. Last days 
and deeds of Leggio 576 


The saint s marvellous gift of eloquence. His continued interest 
in the missions. In the Church in general. His gratitude 
for being a child of the Church. Gratitude for the hospi 
tality shown the Jesuits by Catherine of Russia and Fred 
erick of Prussia. His conviction that the suppression would 
not continue long. He defends them. His hatred of the 
Jansenists. Arnauld. The Blessed Eucharist. "Mercy 
to sinners." How to deal with sinners who come to con 
fession badly disposed. His perpetual sermon, avoid sin. 
His last visit to the nuns of Nocera. Obedience. His 
occupations. His politeness. Accident. He sells his 
horses. Temptations 588 


Diabolical phantoms. The Neapolitan missionary. The 
phantom-priest. Another temptation. Heavenly favors. 
Supernatural instinct. The feast of the Blood of Jesus. The 
mental power of the saint not impaired. The act of love. 
Saintly coachmen. God glorifies the sanctity of His ser 
vant. The burning mountain. The little children. The 
saint s testimony to Father de Meo s sanctity. Gift of 
prophecy. Humility of the saint. His heroic obedience. 
His gentlemanly demeanor among his brethren. " Al 
ways crooked." Advice to a young cleric. Pious prac 
tices. Vacant sees.. . 602 

Contents. xxix 


God alone. Incorrect conclusion. Vigor of the saint s 
intellect. His fear of God s judgments. His exalted 
idea of the sacerdotal dignity. His consummate tact. 
Celebration of his ninetieth birthday. Young men of 
ninety. Foreshadowing. Interesting details. The saint 
is visited by his absent children. "By thy words thou 
shalt be justified." Visit of Count Joseph Liguori. 
"Save your soul." Parting benedictions. Brother Gerard. 
Delicate attentions of the Neapolitan bishops. Uni 
versal grief for the hopeless condition of the saint. 
Miracles 613 


Details. " Give me the Madonna." The saint can no 
longer articulate. He is visited by our Lady herself. 
Answer to his prayers. The crucifix. His prayer to 
die among his beloved brethren. It is beautifully answered. 
He dies in an ecstasy of love. His soul among the sera 
phim. His personal appearance. Character. Obsequies. 
Veneration of all classes, especially the clergy. Funeral 
honors, devised by the Bishop of Nocera, dispensed with. 
Masses celebrated without intermission. The funeral. 
Miracles 623 


Honors shown to the saint s memory. Testimony of the 
Archbishop of Palermo. Of Cardinal Benediti. Of the 
Archbishop of Amalfi. Letter of Monsignore Lopez. 
Magnificent obsequies. Letter from the Bishop of Nusco. 
The Superior-General of the pious workmen. Mother 
Raphael. The modern Francis de Sales. Cardinal Spi- 
nelli. The Archbishop of Salerno. Other distinguished 
testimony. Alphonsus a model for all orders of the clergy. 
His extraordinary sweetness towards sinners. His 
life-long propensity to magnify the mercy and goodness 
of God 636 

xxx Contents. 


Alphonsus as a child. His three great sins. Early sympathy 
with the humbler classes. As a priest. "Keep your rules." 
As superior. Remarkable instances of his kindness and 
compassion. A model for bishops. His excessive clemency. 
His love for his subjects. His unbounded confidence in 
them. Instance. Alphonsus as a theologian. His attach 
ment to his clergy. Their love for him. Instances. 
Accused of laxity. Characteristic defence 646 


Miracles attest the sanctity of Alphonsus. Magdalen de Nun 
cio. Francis de Octajana.-*-Antoinette Tarsia. The nun of 
Salerno. The saint s countrywoman, Dona Giordani. Mir 
acle wrought on the Lady Louisa Palatella. Two processes. 
The saint declared Venerable. Proceedings suspended. 
Alphonsus is beatified. Canonization. Indulgences granted. 
The city of Naples chooses him for patron. Respect paid 
to him by the Royal family and people of Naples. High 
esteem of several popes for Alphonsus, especially Pius IX. 
Raised to the Doctorate. Conditions. The excellence of 
all the Doctors reunited in our saint. Extraordinary pomp 
and splendor of the saint s beatification and canonization. 
Decree : 658 


The undying characteristic of St. Alphonsus. The work most 
cherished by Alphonsus. Sketch of the early days of the 
order in Northern Europe. A prophecy and its fulfilment. 
Vocation of F. Hoffbauer. Hiibl. Various persecutions. 
Splendid testimony. Prisons and death. Death of the 
second General. His successors. Jealousies of the Neapol 
itan government. Present state of the Congregation. 
Father Passerat. His holy death. Prayers and prophecies 67$ 



IT is not without a special design that God places each of His 
saints on the theatre of this world at one epoch rather than another. 
In the Divine economy nothing is abandoned to chance. When 
ever the Church approaches a crisis, and seems menaced with * 
defeat, God gives a saint to earth. And such a saint in himsell 
alone a magnificent gift of Providence is invariably endowed b) 
heaven with the graces peculiarly necessary at that precise moment 
for the healing of the world and the victory of the Church. 

Against Arianism, God raised up an Athanasius, a Hilary of 
Poictiers ; to counteract Roman decadence, God sent St. Benedict 
and his legions of toiling monks ; to the hypocritical poverty of 
the Manichean Albigenses, God opposed the sincere and most 
magnificent poverty of Francis d Assisi ; the verbosity of the 
heretics He neutralized by the eloquence of a Dominic and the 
science of a Thomas Aquinas ; against the perpetual militia of 
Protestantism there came forth from the soil of Catholicism the 
standing armies of St. Ignatius and St. Vincent de Paul. 

Finally, and to come to our subject, at a time when the 
Christian world was in danger of becoming Jansenist ; when 
Mercy and Joy were banished as foreign from almost every 
country and every hearth ; when confessors armed themselves with 
iron sternness against weak and shuddering sinners ; when 
frequent communion began to be regarded as an impossibility, if 
not a crime; when the heretics would have effaced from our 
Sacred books, whose every page they replenish and illuminate, 
the words Gaudium et Latitia ; at the critical period between the 
seventeenth century, which commenced universal secularization, 
and the eighteenth, which was about to consummate it, God sent 

xxxii Introduction. 

into this world a saint destined to take Mercy and Joy by the 
hand, and render them victorious in every Christian household ; 
a saint who would rob confessors of the heavy armor which 
suppressed the beatings of their hearts and rendered their arms 
powerless to embrace sinners; a saint who was to make frequent 
communion the cherished practice of new Catholic generations j 
who would love, and cause others to love, the words Joy and Glad- 
ness, and would make Sweetness, Unity, and Love triumph frr 
many ages, perhaps forever ! 

Who this saint is, our readers have already conjectured. It is 
Saint Alphonsus Maria di Liguori, who was born September 27, 
1696, and died August I, 1787, aged ninety years, laden with vir 
tues and resplendent with miracles. 

We will now speak of Alphonsus as being in a peculiar manner 
the destroyer of Jansenism. 


St. Alphonsus was gifted with a most ardent temperament, and 
expressed his thoughts with a happy vivacity. More than once he 
turned the fire of his eloquence against the Jansenist sectaries : 
"That meeting which took place at Bourg-Fontaine was less an 
assembly of men than of demons." And again: "WHAT GOOD 

These words show the fixed sentiments of our saint, and he war, 
not among those who change their sentiments every day. But 
previous to refuting these heretics in his books, he had already 
refuted them by his acts. The most beautiful Treatise against Jan 
senism is the Life of St. Alphonsus ! 

Scarcely had he been admitted to Holy Orders, when the ruling 
passion of his life became manifest, with all its ardor, with all its 
enthusiasm his passion for great sinners. He put himself in their 
way; he met them everywhere ; he pursued the most wretched ; he 
attracted them; he heard their confessions and absolved them. 
" He could not endure," says Cardinal Wiseman,* in his beautiful 
panegyric on our saint, "those confessors who received their 
penitents with a discouraging, supercilious air; or who, having 
heard them, sent them off disdainfully, as unworthy or incapable of 
the divine mercy. His whole life was a protest against proceed- 

* Cardinal Wiseman s birthday was the Feast of St. Alphonsus, to whom, as the 
Apostle of the Sacrament of Penance, and of the spirit of benignness to sinners, h 
had an especial devotion DR. MANNING S SERMON, Omnia pro Christc. 

Introduction. xxxiii 

ings of this nature, and towards the close of his career, ne could use 
those magnificent words which are the confirmation of his glory, 
Rnd which should be written in letters of diamond : I DO NOT 


In fact, the great honor of St. Alphonsus is, that he restored Mercy 
to its true place in the Church. God had been regarded as a sort 
of giant, harsh and terrible, before whom men trembled, pale, 
ghastly, devoured by fear. Our saint annihilated these unworthy 
representations dangerous and stupid pictures, which distorted the 
lineaments of the true God. He has shown us what is really the 
divine aspect; he has pointed out Jesus weeping over sinners, and 
lovingly extending His arms towards them. The Jansenists surv 
pressed the paternity of God. St. Alphonsus is among those who 
have restored to Him His character of Father, that is to say, His 

And when our saint took up his pen, his doctrine was not at 
variance with his practice. In his "Praxis Confessarii," the great 
bishop of St. Agatha lays it down that the confessor is at once a 
father, a. physician, a teacher, and & judge. Well, the procrastinat 
ing Jansenists would not agfee to all this. Here is a great sinner, 
who, with trembling knees and shame-stricken countenance, comes 
to make an agonizing confession of twenty or thirty years infamy. 
"Will you," asks the saint, "terrify him, and turn him off from 
month to month, according to the present regime ? No, no ; it is 
a Jansenist doctrine thus to defer absolution." And with a counte 
nance almost terrible, he adds : " It is not difficult, then, to say to 
your brother: Go off, you are damned; I cannot absolve 
you. But if we consider the value of the Blood of Jesus Christ, 
we should hold such conduct in abhorrence ! " 

Thus speak the saints : those who have least need of mercy for 
themselves dispense it most freely to their brethren. True physi 
cians, they do not say to the sick, "Wait; in some days I may 
dress your bleeding wounds." True fathers, they do not say, 
"Wait; after some months, I shall open my arms to embrace my 
repenting son." True teachers, they do not refuse to give decis 
ions, and leave poor souls to perish in the dark. True judges, 
they do not inflict on the accused a horrible suspense, broken by sobs 
and watered with tears. The Jansenists, in being very severe, 
imagined themselves very wise ; but what did they do ? What use* 
to say to penitents, "Come back to-morrow." The penitents did 
not come back. They made humanity loathe pardon by selling i* 

xxxiv Introduction. 

so dear; and peace, being so tardy in bestowing it. I know that 
some will object to us the probabilism of St. Alphonsus ; they 
will affirm that he sinned by an excess cdntrary to that of 
the Jansenists ; they were too severe, he was too lenient. The 
Saint, with an elevation of principle which is well known, a 
thousand and a thousand times proclaims that "it is always neces 
sary to act with moral certitude." He contents himself with adding 
" of two probable opinions, one is not obliged to adopt the mure 
rigid." Is this, then, laxity? Or do you prefer the Jansenist 
proposition: "Some commandments of God are impossible to 
man ? " Morose, forbidding, and austere, the Jansenists pointed out 
the way of salvation, but they strewed it with difficulties almost 
.insurmountable angular stones, sharp blades, and burning coals ; 
all these must be encountered. 

"My brother," says a sweet voice, "begin by walking in the 
path before you ; it is uneven, stony, rough, but you can tread 
it, and you will even find thereon some flowers which the goodness 
of God scatters, to cheer and console you. Later on, you may 
enter on more difficult ways, but you must not despair in the 
beginning. God is good ! " Thus speaks Alphonsus, and man 
takes courage. "Always acting with moral certainty, but not 
always adopting the more rigorous sentiment," he has confidence 
in mercy, he experiences some joy, he looks hopefully toward 
God. And not only does he attain salvation, but often goes 
farther, and acquires perfection. This is the work of our Saint, of 
his writings, of his actions. Yet more, he has been the consoler of 
desolate humanity. 


It is well Alphonsus has triumphed. He has made the confes 
sional a consolation ; he has installed therein goodness instead of 
indignation ; the Father, in a word. But his mission is far from 
being fulfilled. In our churches reigns a timid, or rather, 
affrighted silence ; eyes are no longer lifted to the tabernacle ; the 
Eucharistic Majesty is dreaded; once a year the faithful are 
admitted, after a protracted and austere preparation, to approach 
the terrible altar; once a year the banquet of the heavenly 
Father is spread before them ; once a year they may receive their 
God. During the remainder of the year, they can only remember 
* or expect Him. Mothers in tears cannot unite themselves to the 
Consoler of their sorrows ; sinners cannot more frequently draw 
from the tabernacle the strength their weakness so often needs 

Introduction. xxxv 

the children cease to remember the Eucharist. On the door of the 
tabernacle, the icy finger of implacable Jansenism had written : 
"Love is not permitted to descend into the hearts of men oftener 
than once a year." 

Arnauld s book, "Frequent Communion," has accomplished a mis 
chief that can scarcely be undone. It has plunged Catholic souls 
into a lethargy those souls that God created to be everlastingly 
awake. The very movements of our hearts are arrested by the 
chilling touch of Jansenism. Hearts must not beat, love must not 
appear fear, terror, awe these alone are authorized. Mercy no 
longer dwells on our altars ; the terrible God enthroned on them 
is always ready to hurl his thunderbolts. Frightful doctrines, 
which Alphonsus alone was able to undermine. 

This great man enters our churches ; with energetic zeal he 
opens a passage to our altars ; he ascends the steps ; a finger is 
lovingly pointed toward the tabernacle, and a powerful voice 
cries out to all Christian people, "Come, come; Love suffers 
strangely from your absence; Love is left alone." Then they 
come. The beautiful books of the Saint have reassured all souls. 
And these are only echoes of the words of all the saints. Alphon 
sus is in perfect accord wth St. Charles Borromeo and with St. 
Vincent de Paul; with Popes and with Councils; with Jesus 
Christ, above all. He has expanded, he has dilated souls. Our 
hearts are more vast since his day. A moment ago, we said that 
he had raised MERCY to its rightful position among men; the 
same he has done with LOVE. 

Who can sum up the incomparable prayers, the effusions of love, 
the crimes prevented, the virtues acquired or preserved, through 
the influence of our Saint? He has augmented Communions by 
hundreds of thousands ; by hundreds of thousands then must we 
count up the wonders of purity, innocence, and virtue, which he has 
really produced in the world of souls. 


There are certain men who, in closing their eyes on the sun 
of this world can bear themselves this magnificent testimony : "I 
have always loved what is great." Well, on the bed of death every 
Jansenist might have said: "I have always loved what is little." 
I cannot imagine a Jansenist having an elevated thought. We 
have seen them dry up the sources of Mercy and Love ; nor did 
their harshness stop here, they must dry up the very sources of 

xxxvi Introduction. 

salvation. Their hideous doctrine t>f grace drove Love not only 
from earth, but even from heaven ; so that poor, stolid humanity 
with tearful eye and riven soul, knew not where to find it. "Jesus 
Christ did not die for all men," said the Jansenist murderers of 
Love; God wills to save only the predestined, and these are 
necessitated to do right, since man cannot resist interior grace. 

Here my heart rebels, my anger is enkindled. Such were the 
uoctrines proposed to the Christians of the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries ! And we are astonished that they became 
disgusted with such odious principles ! We are astonished that 
humanity, to whom the smile of Mercy, the smile of Love, the smile 
of Hope, were interdicted, became Jansenist or revolutionary ! I 
am no longer amazed at the excesses of the National Assembly, 
since I see so many Jansenists on its benches. Still less am I 
surprised at the excesses of the Revolution, since among its terri 
ble actors figure so many ancient Jansenists. These men had 
hearts of steel ! their actions were eloquent of the fatalism and 
despair of their doctrines ! 

Well, whom does God send to restore to men the hope of an 
easier and more universal salvation ? Who will become the conso 
ler of wretched humanity, and open anew the beautiful paths to be 
atitude? L is still St. Alphonsus. He begins by laying down the 
principle that " God wills with a true and sincere will, that all 
should be saved, and none lost that Jesus Christ died for ALL 
men." Then, in his memorable book entitled "The Great Means 
of Prayer, "he establishes incontestably that, "God, willing the 
salvation of all men, has given to each the graces necessary to attain 
it. If He fail to give the efficacious grace, He at least gives the 
sufficient grace of being able actually to pray. And by prayer, every 
one can obtain the efficacious grace to fulfil the law, and work out his 

The most culpable of the damned, had he wished to profit by the 
grace of prayer common to all, would have obtained by prayer 
the requisite grace, and would have been saved. 

Ah ! at last I breathe freely. No longer is hope deadened with- 
in me. I see heaven peopled; I see the ways of salvation 
frequented ; I see that God is good. I can throw myself on my 
knees ; God is not inexorable. Awav with these odious Jansenist 
crucifixes, whose arms are so contracted ; I must have wide arms, 
immense arms, capable of enclosing all the sinners in the world. 
Give me the Jesus Christ of St. Alphonsus, not him o f Arnauld 
and Saint-Cyran. 

Introduction. xxxvii 


A phenomenon which has always seemed strangely sur 
prising to me is, that all revolutionists have been passionately 
attached to the Jansenists, and passionately beloved by them. It 
is nevertheless certain that the Jansenists were the most intolerant, 
morose, and illiberal of sectaries. It is equally true that we, 
Catholics, defended against them all human liberties, and at the 
same time, the cause of Mercy, Love, and Hope. But the Jansen 
ists were rebels ; that suffices for our adversaries. And above all, 
they were enemies of the Holy See ; that explains everything. It 
cannot now be a matter of surprise to see among our opponents 
Michelet and Nicole, the Siecle and the Prcrvinciaies, the Socialists 
even, with Saint-Cyran and Arnauld. All rebellions are connected, 
and are true to each other. 

Not satisfied with effacing from the world all ideas of love, good 
ness, and hope, the Jansenists wished also to blot out the idea of 
unity. They were the most ardent and the most dangerous of 
Gallicans. This fact is so notorious that it is unnecessary to 
demonstrate it. We may add that the Jansenists managed their 
revolt well. Yes, during two centuries a school existed in the 
bosom of the Church which affirmed that " a Council is above the 
Pope," in other words, that members are superior to their head, 
and can assume its peculiar functions. Yes, during two centuries 
certain theologians used their best efforts to annihilate the idea of 
Infallibility, an idea which is the grandest honor of the human race; 
for, as the good Bishop of Lille recently said: "Man is so great 
that he must have for his guidance on earth a perpetual Infallibility; 
and each of our little ones has a right to say to his master: Do 
not deceive me; be infallible. " For two centuries has been 
exhibited the strange spectacle of a crowd kneeling before the 
Roman See, and crying out to the sovereign Pontiff: " We see in 
you the Vicar of Jesus Christ, but a most fallible Vicar perpetu 
ally fallible, necessarily fallible." Yet the Jansenists dared to 
assert that they preserved Catholic Unity. Yes, after the fashion 
of a branch which, though lopped off, still holds on to the tree by 
some vegetative fibres, receiving just enough of sap to save it from 
immediate death, and which droops mournfully with its withered 
leaves, from a tree, always green, always beautiful, always living. 

The idea of Infallibility, the idea of Unity, had all but disap 
peared from the earth when St. Alphonsus came. It has been 
remarked that he was by excellence the Saint of Infallibility ; it may 
be said with as much reason or more, that he was also the Saint of 

xxxviii Introduction. 

Unity. "The Declaration of the French clergy in 1680 was a 
thorn that pierced his heart." But do not some maintain in these 
days that Gallicanism was the distinctive sign, the essential adorn 
ment, of all great minds, and that we have nothing to oppose to 
their celebrity ? What ? Is not St. Alphonsus, in a literary point 
of view, equal to the most celebrated Jansenists, the most illustri 
ous Galileans ? Listen ! His sweet voice is changed into thunder 
when he vindicates the rights of the Pope. He styles him the 
Prince, the King of Theology, Theologue Princeps ; the Governor, 
the Moderator of the whole Church, Ecclesice Moderator ; the 
Preserver, the Supreme Defender of divine truth among men, 
Divines veritatis conservator et v index ; the Sovereign Judge of al 
doctrinal controversy, Units controversarium Judex, the Universa 
Doctor, and Infallible Interpreter of the divine will. 

And since the days of Alphonsus thanks to him these epithets 
are as "household words" on the lips of Catholics. He has 
trampled on Gallicanism as on Jansenism ; he has been doubly 
triumphant. And to come to the natural result of what has been 
said, he has restored Unity to the world, having previously re 
stored to it Mercy, Love, and Hope. 


His task was not yet completed. A joy was still wanting 
to the Christian world; the Blessed Virgin had too poor a place 
in liturgical invocations, in prayers, in the heart. The Jansenists 
professed a peculiar horror of the Immaculate Conception ; they 
obstinately insisted that some stains had sullied the whiteness of 
this mystic swan. Mary, being thus almost entirely riven from the 
devotion of humanity, Joy disappeared, for, as our liturgy says, 
the Virgin announces Joy to the whole universe : Gaitdium an- 
nunciavit universe rmindo. St. Alphonsus perceived this danger as 
he had perceived all the others, and he undertook to restore to the 
Mother of God the glories of which Jansenist hands had robbed her. 
God worked with him, and glorious miracles gave his doctrine 
a supernatural consecration. In presence of thousands of specta 
tors, Our Lady more than once appeared to vindicate her own 
cause. And Alphonsus was encouraged to proclaim boldly and 
distinctly the Immaculate Conception of the Co-Redemptnx of the 
human race; to cry out always and everywhere that "all graces come 
through the hands of Mary." Now let us open our eyes and ears 
What language do all Christians now hold of the Blessed Virgin 

Introduction. xxxix 

but the language of St. Alphonsus ? Has not the dogma of her 
Immaculate Conception, so dear to him, been solemnly defined ? 
Have not his works on the Mother of God become standard? 
Verily, our Saint triumphs. 

Even in the bosom of the family, the Jansenists had acquired an 
influence truly deplorable. They drove out Joy. We know what 
Jansenist education meant. The little children were sternly 
treated. They must not jest or laugh too loud, or show their 
pretty little teeth in smiles. They were forced to submit to sacri 
fices which, to be meritorious must be voluntary and free. Their 
parents rarely mingled with them, e longinquo auctoritas. Their home 
was gloomy. The feasts of Our Lady and the Saints were dimin 
ished in number. The little ones were taught to enter a church in 
fear and trembling -pavete ad sancttiarium meum ; their sweet little 
eyes must not presume to wander toward the tabernacle. Such 
an education, I tell you, was cold, dismal, and desolate. 

The doctrine of St. Alphonsus has yet to triumph in the family, 
where a contrary system has replaced the Turkish regime of the 
T ansenists. To-day we are in the opposite extreme ; we make 
our children our companions ; the Jansenists wished us to make 
them our slaves. Between these extremes is true Christian educa 
tion, grave but cheerful, austere but joyoirs, paternal and maternal 
peals of laughter mingled with noble teachings, plays with les 
sons. St. Alphonsus has not yet wholly triumphed over the false 
austerity, the gloom of the Jansenists. But he who has brought 
back among us Love, Hope, and Goodness, will assuredly restore 
to us Joy. Melancholy was regarded in the Middle Ages as the 
eighth capital sin ; Joy is a great wrtue, and the Church incessantly 
says to us : Rejoice, again I say to you, rejoice . Gaudete, iterum 






Characteristics of St. Alphonsus. Antiquity and nobility of his 
family. Piety of his parents. Birth of Alphonsus. His 
brothers and sisters. Childhood of the saint. Remarkable 
prediction of St. Francis Jerome, S. J. Singular coincidence. 

THE life of St. Alphonsus Mary di Liguori is a 
mirror of every virtue ; well known and deeply 
meditated, it cannot fail to inspire a holy ambi 
tion to walk in his footsteps. He was exem 
plary in the world ; as a priest, he has become 
the great model of evangelical workmen. 
Founder of a congregation of missionary priests, 
he perpetuates in his children his piety and zeal 
for souls. As a bishop, he proved himself 
worthy of companionship with the apostles ; as 
the author of numerous works, inspired by his 
faith, his charity, his devotion to the Church, 
being dead, he yet speaketh to the incredulous 
who run blindly to perdition, to heretics who 
despise their true mother, to moralists tempted 
to the extremes of laxity or rigorism : in short, 
his writings have won him a place among the 
Doctors of the Church. 


It were superfluous to enlarge on the antiq 
uity and nobility of the family of our saint, a 
family whose origin is anterior to the Neapoli 
tan monarchy ; this would be absurdly out of 
place in the biography of one who so thoroughly 
despised mere worldly grandeur. 

Happily, his family was ennobled by virtue as 
well as by rank. His father, Count Joseph di 
Liguori, of the Royal Neapolitan Marine, was 
remarkable for his sincere piety. When at 
home, he frequented the churches, and at 
regular intervals approached the sacraments; 
while at sea, he decorated his berth with so 
many pious emblems and pictures that it seemed 
like the cell of a religious. He would not allow 
an unseemly expression to be uttered in his 
presence, and he never submitted himself to 
that false code of honor by which so many 
noblemen of his age were unhappily governed. 
He was specially devoted to the passion of 

The mother of Alphonsus was the Lady Anne 
Catherine Cavalieri, a matron of extraordinary 
merit and virtue, who loved prayer, was devoted 
to the poor, and excelled in every quality es 
teemed in a truly Christian wife and mother. 
Penances and mortifications were her delight; 
she was never to be seen at the theatre ; worldly 
society was burdensome to her ; secluded in her 
palace, slie occupied herself chiefly with God, 
her soul, and the Christian education of her 

Such were the parents of the holy Doctor 


whose life we write. God willed to consecrate 
to himself in a peculiar manner the first of their 
holy union. 

Alphonsus was born on September 27, 1696, 
the feast of the glorious martyrs, Cosmas and 
Damian, at seven o clock in the morning, at 
Marianella, the country house of his family. 
He was baptized in the parochial church of St. 
Mary at Naples, September 29, under the 
auspices of St. Michael ; and the names, Al 
phonsus, Mary, Antony, John, Francis, Cosmas, 
Damian, Michael, Gaspard, were given him in 
memory of the most illustrious of his ancestors, 
and to honor the saints on whose respective 
days he was born and baptized. 

From the moment of his birth, he was placed 
under the special protection of the Blessed 
Virgin, that she might adopt him as her son, 
and be to him in all his necessities an advocate 
and a mother; hence he was always called 
Alphonsus Mary. 

Three other sons, and three daughters, were 
born to Count Joseph Liguori : Benedict, who 
became a Benedictine, and honored the religious 
habit by a holy and mortified life ; Cajetan, who 
chose the sacerdotal state, and lived like a 
hermit in his father s house ; Hercules, who 
embraced the married state; Mary Louisa and 
Marianne, who became nuns ; and Teresa, who 
espoused the Duke of Presenzano and led a 
saintly life in the world. 

The birth of Alphonsus filled the hearts of his 
parents with the most lively gratitude to God. 


In testimony of this, they resolved to watch 
so carefully over their precious child that he 
should never lose the divine grace which had 
regenerated him. Even in infancy, this predes 
tined babe seemed endowed with the germs of 
those rare qualities which afterwards attracted 
the admiration and secured the reverence of all 
who knew him. When the countess presented 
her fair child to St. Francis Jerome, who 
happened to visit her, for his benediction, the 
saint, looking with loving eyes on the little 
Alphonsus, blessed him, and, illumined with the 
spirit of prophecy, exclaimed : " This little one 
will not die before his ninetieth year ; he will 
be a bishop and do great things for Jesus Christ." 
The happy mother, struck by this prophecy, 
received her child from the arms of the saintly 
Jesuit, as a special gift from heaven ; a child who 
would increase in wisdom and grace as in age, 
and one day become a powerful agent in the 
hands of God, to promote his glory by procur 
ing the salvation of innumerable souls. 

It is a singular coincidence, that the prophet 
and the subject of the prophecy were canonized 
on the same day, May 26, 1839, by Pope 
Gregory XVI ; upon which auspicious occasion 
St. John Joseph of the Cross, St. Pacificus, find 
St. Veronica Juliana were also raised upon the 
altars of the Church. 


Early education of Alphonsus. His first steps in piety. Father 
Tannoia s reminiscences of Madame Liguori. Alphonsus as 
a boy. With the Oratorians. He attains to sublime prayer. 
Remarkable incident. 

THE mother of our saint cheerfully assumed 
the charge of her son s education, a burden 
rendered light indeed by her love for her 
precious first-born, and the ardor with which 
he advanced in virtue, far beyond her most 
sanguine expectations. Every morning she 
gave him her maternal benediction, and then 
heard him recite his prayers ; every evening she 
instructed him, as far as his childish capacity 
would admit, in the sublime truths of our holy 
faith. When other children were born to her, 
she adopted a similar course with them, and it 
was delightful to see her surrounded morning 
and evening by those fair olive branches which 
the Divine Husbandman had given her to prune 
and nurture for his heavenly vineyard. 

The seeds of virtue cast into the young heart 
of Alphonsus, did not fall on sterile ground ; 
piety seemed, as it were, natural to him. The 
ordinary amusements of childhood pleased him 
not ; but he loved to decorate little altars, to 
celebrate in his own fashion the ever-recurring 


festivals of the saints, and to imitate the beauti 
ful ceremonies of the Church. Already he be 
gan to taste those celestial joys which are the 
portion only of souls far advanced in the ways 
of God. As soon as he was old enough, his 
mother prepared him for his first confession, 
and placed him under the spiritual direction of 
Father Thomas Pagano, an Oratorian of the 
church of St. Jerome, her own director, and a 
relation of her family. 

Father Tannoia, who has left us such copious 
memoirs of the blessed founder, and several of 
the earlier members of the Congregation of the 
Most Holy Redeemer, was well acquainted with 
the noble and pious lady who formed the plastic 
heart of Alphonsus to every virtue. He loved 
to compare the Countess Liguori to that royal 
mother who directed the religious education of 
St. Louis, and planted in his infant mind the 
germs of every kingly and Christian virtue. As 
Queen Blanche desired that her dear Louis 
should be all for God, so the mother of Alphon 
sus had no desire in connection with her children 
but that they should become saints. 

This was the great object of her zeal ; and 
hence she inspired them with a tender love for 
Jesus, and a filial confidence in Mary. All her 
children eagerly responded to her pious care. 
Indeed five of the seven consecrated themselves 
to God in the ecclesiastical or religious state ; 
but in this holy family Alphonsus was ever pre 
eminently distinguished. As a boy, he closely 
imitated the piety of his mother, accomplishing 


with delight all the acts of devotion he saw her 
perform. His obedience was so prompt and 
perfect, that at the least sign from his parents 
he instantly executed whatever they desired. 

The life-long zeal of our saint to instruct the 
faithful in the fundamental truths of religion, and 
to kindle in all hearts the love of Jesus and 
Mary, undoubtedly originated in the instructions 
of his excellent mother, who will assuredly be 
eternally recompensed in heaven for all the good 
her son will have produced in souls. 

During the childhood of Alphonsus, the 
Oratorians of St. Jerome established at Naples 
a pious congregatioa to promote the spiritual 
welfare of the young nobility. Alphonsus was 
scarcely nine years old when his parents placed 
him under their care. The good Fathers soon 
recognized in their precocious pupil those rare 
virtues which excite the admiration of the good. 
Every Sunday he was among the earliest arrivals, 
and was so docile, so recollected during the 
spiritual exercises of the congregation, so eager 
to hear instructions and profit by them, that he 
was an example of fervor to the other young 
noblemen, and a source of comfort and edifica 
tion to his superiors. 

Every week he confessed to Father Pagano, 
and it was from his hands that this child of 
predilection received his first communion. It 
was an edifying sight to see him on his knees 
hearing mass with singular devotion ; and 
whenever he approached the holy table, his 
fervor and piety, his diligent preparation and 


prolonged thanksgiving, excited a holy emula 
tion in the breasts of his companions. 

The solicitude of his good mother continually 
increased ; she formed his heart to prayer, and 
instructed him in all the duties of a Christian 
nobleman. She inspired in his soul a horror of 
sin, even the slightest, because it offends our 
dearest Lord. Her language made the deepest 
impression on his young heart, and this zealous 
mother was delighted to find in her gifted son a 
rectitude of judgment and a docility of heart, 
which rendered all her instructions efficacious. 
Every one admired his constancy in his devo 
tional exercises ; when the time came for perform 
ing them with his mother, he was always ready 
to join her ; nor was he less punctual with regard 
to the pious practices he imposed upon himself. 

That he had already attained to sublime 
prayer even at the age of twelve, the following 
remarkable occurrence will show : The Fathers 
were accustomed to take the young members of 
their congregation, every Sunday after Vespers, 
to some country house for recreation. On one 
of these occasions, while amusing themselves at 
the villa of the Prince de la Riccia, one of the 
boys suggested a play called " the game of 
oranges," and Alphonsus was invited to join. 
For a while, he excused himself on the plea of 
not understanding the game, but he was at 
length prevailed on to yield to their entreaties. 

Fortune favored the young tyro to such an ex 
tent that he won thirty times in succession. His 
success excited the jealousy of his companions; 


and one of the oldest among them, the boy who 
had insisted the most on his joining in the play, 
exclaimed in a rage : " What ! so you did not 
know the game ! " adding in his anger an ex 
pression that was more than impolite. Alphon- 
sus blushed when he heard it, and turning tow 
ards the other boys, exclaimed with severity : 
"How is this? Shall God be offended in this 
fashion for a few miserable cents?" Then 
throwing down contemptuously the coins he had 
won, he said : " Take back your money ! " and 
immediately left his companions, his countenance 
still glowing with a holy indignation. 

Ashamed and confused, the boys gazed on him 
as he retired to a distant part of the garden, but 
presently resumed their game which they con 
tinued till the fall of evening. When it was time 
to return to the city, they called him and sought 
him, but no trace of him was discovered. After 
a long and weary search, they finally caught a 
glimpse of him, kneeling behind a laurel tree. 
Coming closer, they found that he had suspended 
from one of the branches the picture of Our 
Blessed Lady, which he always carried about 
him. He was so absorbed and ravished in God, 
that he neither heard nor saw his companions 
for a considerable time. When the boy who had 
offended him, and who was really anxious to 
excuse himself, perceived the rapt and glowing 
countenance of his holy playmate, he exclaimed : 
" Alas ! what have I done ? I have maltreated a 
saint ! " 

Indeed Alphonsus was regarded in this light 


by all who knew him. One day when some one 
spoke of his virtues in presence of his friend 
Antony Villani, the latter tearfully exclaimed: 
" Ah, you little know the holiness of that great 
servant of God, who has been a saint from 
infancy ! " Then, recovering from his emotion, 
he related the above incident, of which he had 
been an eye-witness. 


Studies of Alphonsus. His musical and poetical talents. Painting 
and architecture. Evidences of his general knowledge of liberal 
arts and sciences. His success in jurisprudence. He receives 
the degree of doctor. His exploits at the chase, and fowling. 
Lost time. Increasing solicitude of his mother. His love 
and gratitude towards her. 

THE talents and virtues of Alphonsus were a 
source of delight to all his friends, but chiefly to 
his parents. His father, proud of his rare 
capacity for acquiring knowledge, was deter 
mined to procure him the best possible education, 
that he might become a proficient in all the 
learning and accomplishments suitable to his rank 
and expectations. But partly through affection 
for his son, and partly to shield his innocence 
from the dangers to which it might be exposed 
in the public colleges, the Count resolved that 
the education of Alphonsus should be conducted 
under the eyes of his parents. 

Accordingly, he engaged for him the most 
distinguished masters, men eminent in scholar 
ship, and of irreproachable morals, that his boy s 
progress in virtue might not be retarded by his 
progress in learning. His quick and tenacious 
memory, his ripe judgment and extraordinary 


docility, rendered the office of his instructors a 
pleasure rather than a task. He soon attained 
considerable proficiency in the Greek, Latin, and 
French languages, and commenced the study of 
canon and civil law. 

But his parents, desiring that he should be 
come an accomplished gentleman as well as 
an able man of letters, procured him instruc 
tions in drawing, painting, and architecture, 
and in these arts he succeeded so admirably 
that, even in his old age, he executed pictures 
of Jesus Crucified and Our Lady with remark 
able skill, and often designed and sketched the 
devotional emblems he was so fond of distribut 
ing among the faithful. He usually made the 
plans for the houses of his congregation, and 
when he had not sufficient leisure for this, he 
required the architects to submit their sketches 
to his criticism. 

Specimens of our saint s skill in painting may 
still be seen in some of the older houses of his 
congregation. At Ciorani is a representation of 
the corpse of Alexander the Great, preyed upon 
by hideous vermin ; the whole showing, more 
eloquently than any words, the utter vanity of 
all human greatness. In the refectory of Illiceto 
is an immense skeleton, painted by the hand of 
the artist-saint, with the usual doleful surround 
ings ; and in the church of the same house hangs 
an ancient portrait of Our Lady which he 
entirely renovated. The beautiful landscapes 
and figures in oils that adorn the draperies of the 
grand altar, representing Jesus adored by the 


shepherds, give still more conclusive evidence 
of his artistic ability. 

But the accomplishment in which his father 
was most desirous Alphonsus should excel, was 
music. For three hours a day, the boy was 
obliged to practise under the eye of an able 
master, and the count was so passionately fond 
of music, that he generally assisted at the lesson 
himself; if business required his presence else 
where, he would lock the door on teacher and 
pupil that it might not be abridged. The result of 
this severe discipline of the extraordinary musical 
talent of the youth was, that he touched the 
harpsichord with the hand of a proficient before 
he had attained his twelfth year. He was equally 
successful in Latin and Italian poetry ; and was 
accustomed even in old age to compose the 
beautiful hymns by which he sought to reanimate 
the devotion of the people, and set them to 

In mature age, he often bewailed as lost the 
time he had devoted in youth to the study of 
music. " Fool that I was," he one day exclaimed, 
looking at his harpsichord, " to have wasted so 
much time on that ! but my father would have 
me perfect myself in music, and I was obliged 
to obey him." His poetical genius would 
probably have taken a higher flight, had not his 
aim been rather to foster popular piety than to 
gratify the cultivated tastes of the few ; yet 
many of his canticles are of rare and touching 
beauty, and give incontestable evidence of a 
high order of talent. 


The numerous theological and metaphysical 
works published by Alphonsus, furnished abun 
dant proof that he was fully up to the age in 
philosophy, mathematics, and all the liberal arts 
and sciences. An astronomical instrument may 
still be seen at Illiceto, which shows that our 
saint possessed no mean amount of mechanical 
expertness. When head of a congregation, he 
himself gave the young clerics lessons in geo 
graphy, cosmography, and kindred sciences, and 
it was to illustrate some scientific lecture that 
Alphonsus designed the ingeniously constructed 
instrument to which we have alluded. 

His father, ambitious of seeing his precocious 
son raised to the higher offices of the state, 
made him apply diligently to the study of civil 
and canon law. This Alphonsus did with such 
success, that he received the doctor s gown in 
1713, by virtue of a dispensation of three years 
and nine months, he being then little over six 
teen years. He was still quite boyish in appear 
ance and of low stature ; consequently, the 
admiration his abilities excited did not hinder 
people from smiling as they noticed his doctoral 
gown trailing on the ground when he went to 
the courts. In after life, Alphonsus himself 
sometimes jested at the ludicrous appearance 
he made when a legal practitioner of sixteen : 
" My long cassock," said he, " perpetually twist 
ing itself about my feet, provoked the laughter 
of every one I met in the streets." 

Despite his youth, however, his success before 
the Neapolitan tribunals was prodigious. His 


father still kept him under the tuition of the 
ablest advocates and jurisconsults then practising 
in Naples, among whom were the celebrated 
lawyers, Perani and Jovene. Under these 
masters, he became so absorbed in his legal 
studies that he soon began to deny himself all 
kinds of amusements. He associated only with 
the pious and learned president, Dominic 
Caravita, whose house was a sort of academy for 
the most studious among the younger members 
of the bar. 

Previous to this, however, he had indulged 
a little in the games then usual in good society, 
in which his mind found some recreation ; and 
his father, who allowed him relaxation very 
sparingly, did not object to his spending an hour 
every evening at the house of his friend, Charles 
Cito, at which a few of the most virtuous and 
studious of the young nobility occasionally met, 
to enjoy a game of terzillio or ombre. Several 
times, however, he displeased his father by 
prolonging his visit ; and on one of these occa 
sions the count, wishing to punish his tardiness, 
removed from his table all books of study, 
substituting for them packs of cards. Awaiting 
his son s return, he greeted him thus : " Behold 
your studies ; these are the authors that have 
made you so punctual in returning at the 
appointed hour to your home." 

Alphonsus felt this mortification most keenly, 
but it had the desired effect. Henceforth he 
strove more earnestly than ever to obey his 
father s injunctions. In old age he mentioned, 


that, as a youth, he had been very fond of hunt 
ing" and fowling, though he never indulged in 
these pastimes but on days on which he was 
excused from study. " The birds that had to do 
with me were fortunate," he added, " for, despite 
all my efforts, I rarely hurt one." Then seeming 
to regret a passing allusion to what he regarded 
as the follies of his youth, he would immediately 
pass from the subject of snaring birds to that of 
hunting for souls, remarking how dear to God, 
and becoming to apostolic men, is this burning 
zeal for souls. 

His parents, especially his mother, kept 
anxious and unceasing vigilance over the morals 
and religious training of this wonderful youth. 
Dancing and fencing were not among his 
accomplishments, because they were considered 
dangerous to his soul. 

Although Alphonsus always testified love, 
reverence, and gratitude to both these pious 
parents, his heart was particularly touched by the 
unwearied devotedness of his excellent mother. 
Even in extreme old age he blessed God 
because of her, and was wont to say : " If there 
was any thing good in me as a child, if I kept 
clear of wickedness, I owe it entirely to my 
mother." His father, being frequently absent 
on his naval excursions, was unable to give to 
the education of his children the constant sur 
veillance which so grave a duty merited ; hence 
it necessarily devolved entirely on his mother, a 
fitting instrument, in the divine hands, since she 
reared for the Church a family of saints. " At 


the death of my father," said Alphonsus, on one 
occasion, " I refused myself the consolation of 
going to Naples to assist him ; but when my 
mother is dying, if it be at all possible I shall 
watch over her last moments." 


Success of Alphonsus at the bar. The rules which guided him. 
His pious practices. His retreats. His love of purity. His 
love for the congregation of St. Philip. The edification he 
gave to all who knew him. Conversion of a Moorish slave. 
Motive of his conversion. His happy death. 

ALPHONSUS applied himself to the practice of 
law with so much success, that before he had 
attained his twentieth year his clients were 
numerous and often distinguished, and his merit 
had won him an honorable place among the 
leading advocates of the kingdom. His father 
had at that time friends and relatives among the 
principal senators, who, recognizing the superior 
ability of their young kinsman, promoted his 
advancement in every way which their friend 
ship suggested. Nor was the young lawyer 
himself indifferent to public esteem. On the 
contrary, he knew so well how to attract it that, 
in a short time, the most important causes were 
confided to him. And his success was not un 
deserved ; for if his talents and industry gained 
him universal admiration, his probity and disin 
terestedness made him universally respected. 
It is worthy of remark, that he gained all the 
causes entrusted to him from 171$ to 1723. 


The following are the rules by which our 
young lawyer governed himself: 

1. Never to accept an unjust suit. 

2. To defend clients by lawful means only. 

3. Not to burden them with unnecessary ex 

4. To defend their causes with as much care 
as he would his own. 

$. To study the details of a process diligently, 
that he might strike out the best line of de 

6. To suffer no fault of his to retard the 
cause of his client, which would be contrary to 

7. To implore the assistance of God in order 
to succeed; He being the first protector of 

8. Not to load himself with causes which 
surpassed his talent and strength ; nor to accept 
of any, of which he foresaw he would not have 
sufficient leisure to prepare the defence. 

9. Justice and honesty should be the char 
acteristics of a lawyer, which he must preserve 
as the apple of his eye. 

10. A lawyer who loses his cause through 
negligence is obliged to make restitution for the 
losses of his client. 

1 1. In the defence of a cause, it is necessary to 
be respectful, and to ground one s pleading, not 
on chicanery, but on sound logic. 

12. Diligence, truth, fidelity, and justice are 
the qualities necessary in a lawyer. 

Guided by such principles, it is not surpris- 


ing that he gained so great an ascendency over 
all hearts, that his very adversaries often ranged 
themselves on his side, and that innumerable 
clients confided their interests to his care. 

But if Alphonsus desired a brilliant career at 
the bar, he was not less anxious to render him 
self dear to God by increasing daily in virtue. 
Two years after receiving the gown, he passed 
from the congregation of young nobles to that 
of doctors, also directed by the Fathers of the 
Oratory. These good priests did not omit 
any thing calculated to promote the spiritual 
advancement of their pupils. Alphonsus re 
sponded to their pious care with ever-increasing 
ardor. He frequented the sacraments, visited 
the sick in the hospitals, practised prayer and 
mortification, and would never enter the courts 
till he had heard mass and finished his morning 
devotions. His confessor, Father Pagano, he 
regarded as a second Guardian Angel. To him 
he exposed his doubts and fears, and was always 
strictly obedient to his counsels. About this 
time, he with other brethren undertook to serve 
the sick in the hospital of Incurables ; and a 
nobleman of Vitri, named de Senlis, has recorded 
that he remembered our saint making up the 
beds, though encumbered with his lawyer s 
gown, and feeding the patients with the greatest 
charity and compassion. 

Every year Alphonsus, at the suggestion of 
his father, used to make a retreat of eight days, 
either in the house of the Fathers of the Mission, 
or that of the Jesuits. A retreat, conducted by 


Father Buglione, S. J., greatly affected him. " I 
was only eighteen at that time," said he, some 
years later ; " but the sanctity of the preacher, 
the admirable order of the exercises, and the 
precious advantages I derived from them, remain 
indelibly engraved on my soul." 

From this period, he began to entertain a 
special love for the virtue of holy purity. His 
modesty was, literally, known to all, and a word or 
gesture expressive of the slightest impropriety 
never escaped him, even when his father made 
him mingle in the gayest society. He composed 
himself to sleep, holding a wooden cross in his 
hands, a practice he continued to the end of his 
life. He continued always tenderly attached to 
the Congregation of St. Philip Neri, and, even 
during his episcopate, never failed to visit his 
ancient brethren whenever business brought him 
to Naples. 

The edification resulting from such a pious 
life, will be fully known only in heaven ; but we 
will cite one instance of it in these pages. His 
father, as captain of the galleys, had several 
Moorish slaves in his service, one of whom he 
selected to wait upon Alphonsus. He was not 
slow in manifesting an inclination to become a 
Christian, and when asked what had made him 
think of this, he replied : " The example of my 
young master. That religion cannot be false, 
which makes him lead so pure and holy a life." 

Father Mastrilla of the Oratory commenced 
to instruct him gradually, but he soon became 
very ill. One night he eagerly requested to be 


baptized, saying : " I have seen Our Lady, St. 
Joseph, and St. Joachim, and they told me I 
must be baptized now, because they want me in 
Paradise." The priest objected, that his illness 
was not dangerous, and that he was not suffi 
ciently instructed. " Question me, Father, and 
you shall see," said he ; and he answered cor 
rectly every question proposed to him. He was 
then baptized, and the priest having told him to 
rest a little, he said : " This is not my place of 
repose, for I must go immediately to heaven." 
The spectators smiled at this, but in a little 
while the poor slave, his countenance radiant 
with joy, surrendered his purified soul to his 


Matrimonial projects. Teresina Liguori. Birth of her brother 
and consequent alteration in her prospects. Negotiations 
abandoned and renewed. Indignation of the young princess. 
She enters a convent. Alphonsus becomes her biographer. 
Indiscretion of our saint on one occasion.- 1 Anger of his father. 
Humility of the son. Cooling of his fervor. Testimony 
of Charles Cito. Retreat. Terrible incident. Effect on 
Alphonsus. His devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. His 
zeal for decorating altars. His gratitude to his friend, the 
Duke of Casabona, and to the Fathers of the Mission. Inter 
esting letter. 

ALPHONSUS was now almost twenty ; and as he 
continued to make progress in every respect, his 
friends expected that with such powerful interest 
at court and such distinguished talents, he 
would speedily attain to the highest dignity in 
the magistracy. His expectations were known 
to be so great, his morals so irreproachable, and 
his manners and appearance so elegant, that 
the first families in Naples, having marriageable 
daughters, were desirous that he should form a. 
matrimonial alliance with one of them. 

The choice of his father fell on the beautiful 
and accomplished princess, Teresina Liguori, a 
distant relation, only child and heiress of Francis 
Liguori, Prince of Presiccio, then in her thir 
teenth year. The parents of the young lady es- 


teemed Alphonsus so highly that the affair was 
considered as settled, though the nuptials were 
not to be celebrated until the bride-elect should 
have attained a more mature age. The parties, 
most deeply concerned, seem to have had no 
share in these arrangements. 

Meanwhile, the Princess of Presiccio gave birth 
to a son, an incident which immediately changed 
the designs of the count, who no longer con 
sidered Teresina an advantageous match for his 
heir. But the infant, who had so inopportunely 
ruptured the plans of the worldly-wise father, 
dying in a few months, matrimonial negotiations 
were again renewed by the family of the proposed 
bridegroom, and favorably received by the 
prince and princess ; who, though pained by the 
late desertion, were willing to overlook an insult, 
which, however, their daughter bitterly resented. 
With a firmness rare in Italian girls under 
similar circumstances. Teresina obstinately 
refused to listen to these renewed proposals. 
"No, no," said she with spirit; "when my 
brother was alive, I was not considered a suit 
able match for Alphonsus di Liguori. It is my 
fortune that is sought, not myself. I know 
enough of the world now, and I will ho /e no 
more to do with it. I desire only Jesus Christ 
for my spouse." 

The young princess kept her word. She took 
the veil in the convent of the most Holy Sacra 
ment, at the age of sixteen, and died five years 
later, full of merits and good works, October 30, 
1724 Alphonsus, at the request of her relig- 


ious sisters, wrote the edifying life of her whom 
parental ambition had destined for his bride. 

The rupture between Alphonsus and Teresina 
must be regarded as providential. Both, reserved 
by God to adorn higher paths than even the 
pride of their illustrious kinsfolks could covet 
for them, lived to attain eminent sanctity. It is 
probable that the example of Teresina had a 
powerful influence on Alphonsus. Certain it is, 
that her truly angelic life, and the odor of 
sanctity diffused by her early death, made an 
indelible impression on the mind of our saint, as 
is evident from the concise but beautiful bio 
graphy he wrote thirty seven years later (1761) 
of his virtuous cousin, Sister Teresa Mary di 
Liguori ; in which, however, the saint makes no 
mention of the relations in which the lawyer of 
twenty and the princess of thirteen once stood 
to each other by the mutual consent of their 
respective parents. 

The following circumstance, which occurred 
about the time Teresina took the veil (1719), 
shows the docility of Alphonsus, and the sub 
mission his father continued to exact of him. 
One evening, the count having given a party, 
it happened that one of the servants, whose office 
it was to light the guests from the palace to 
their carriages, behaved with the most unac 
countable stupidity, which so displeased the 
host that he could not cease reproaching him. 
Alphonsus, feeling pained for the poor servant, 
whose fault was quite involuntary, said : " What 
a noise you make about a trifle, father ! once you 



begin to scold, you can never stop." This indis 
creet speech so displeased the angry nobleman, 
that he immediately replied by giving his son a 
blow on the face. 

Humbled and confused, Alphonsus withdrew 
in silence to his room. As he did not appear at 
supper, his mother went to call him. She found 
him at the foot of his crucifix, weeping bitterly 
for the disrespect he had shown his father. 
Having earnestly besought her to intercede foi 
him, he accompanied her back, and, kneeling, 
implored the count to forgive him. This he 
readily did, more affected by his son s humble 
repentance than he had been wounded by his 
late indiscretion. What reverence towards a 
father on the part of a son who was already emi 
nent among the most distinguished lawyers of 
Naples ! 

Alphonsus confessed in his old age that at this 
epoch of his life his piety grew cold ; he would 
omit his spiritual exercises on the slightest pre 
texts, and was in imminent danger of losing his 
soul. This decay of fervor is easily accounted 
for by the fact, that his father compelled him to 
comply with all the requirements society seemed 
to authorize: besides being flattered and car- 
ressed in every direction, the compliments 
showered upon the elegant and successful 
barrister, were more than enough to turn the 
head of an ordinary individual. " I should have 
been lost," said he, " had all this continued much 

Yet it is possible that he spoke with an ex- 


cusable exaggeration of his remissness at this 
period, for several who directed his conscience 
are of opinion that he never offended God 
grievously, though not always shielded from the 
occasions of sin. Indeed, he himself made the 
following acknowledgment : " I frequented the 
theatre, but, God be thanked, I never committed 
even a venial sin there, for the music absorbed 
all my attention, and was my soie attraction/ 

Even at this time, every one regarded him as 
a young man of irreproachable conduct ; and his 
intimate friend, Charles Cito, being asked later 
on if he had ever perceived any levity of manners 
in Alphonsus, replied, bowing his head respect 
fully : " No ; he was always most virtuous : I 
should blaspheme, if I spoke otherwise." 

What is certain, however, is, that his ardor 
had cooled to so great a degree that his most 
intimate friend, Francis, Duke of Casabona, 
beginning to be alarmed at his negligence, and 
desirous of reviving his own fervor, proposed 
that Alphonsus should join him in a retreat of 
eight days, to be given early in the Lent of 1722, 
at the house of the Lazarist Fathers. To this 
he cheerfully assented, and the retreat was con 
ducted by the Superior, Father Vincent Cutica, 
so justly celebrated for his piety. When this 
man of God spoke of holy things, it was from 
the abundance of the heart. He made his 
auditors weigh well the shortness of time and 
the length of eternity; and painted striking 
pictures of the hideousness of vice and the 
ravishing beauty of virtue. 


These exercises were productive of immense 
spiritual profit to all who made them, but par 
ticularly to Alphonsus. Faithful to grace which 
knocked at the door^of his heart, he exclaimed : 
" The world which covets my heart has nothing 
solid to offer ; nothing capable of satiating the 
yearnings of an immortal spirit : whereas, by 
sitting at the table of the Lamb, t can fully 
satiate the hunger and thirst which devour me." 

With these salutary meditations, the divine 
light penetrated his soul, and immediately the 
seeds of piety began to germinate, despite the 
thorns of passion which had wellnigh choked 
them. He now bitterly deplored the moments 
he had sacrificed to dissipation, and solemnly 
resolved to renounce the follies which had lately 
occupied him. " Believe me," wrote he, 
many years after, " all is foolishness, festivals, 
comedies, company, games: these are the joys 
of the world, but joys full of gall and bitterness. 
I have made the experiment and bitterly lament 
it." Thus did this great saint bewail his youth 
ful wanderings, and, like the royal model of all 
true penitents, keep his sin continually before 

What contributed to impress the pious youth 
still more deeply, was an account given by the 
preacher of an event that had recently occurred 
in Florence, during a retreat given by the fathers 
of St. Vincent de Paul. A gentleman who had 
been leading a scandalous life was suddenly 
converted ; and, as the partner of his guilt had 
just died, he knelt to implore the divine mercy 


for her miserable soul. At the same moment she 
appeared to him, and said : " Pray not for me ; I 
am damned." To convince him that it was no 
mere phantom of his imagination, she laid her 
hands on the table before which he knelt in 
prayer, and the parts which she touched were 

This table, which had been brought from 
Florence to Naples, was exhibited by Father 
Cutica to his audience in his sermon on hell ; and 
so deeply moved was Alphonsus, that he in 
stantly resolved to renounce marriage and all 
the vanities of the world, and give himself 
entirely to God. 

This retreat our saint ever regarded as one 
of the greatest blessings of his life. Among the 
fruits he derived from it, was a special and 
tender confidence in Jesus present in the blessed 
sacrament. Henceforth he was wont to ap 
proach the holy table several times a week, 
and visit daily the church in which the Forty 
Hours adoration was being made, when he 
would remain for hours kneeling in contempla 
tion before his hidden Savior. 

He loved to see the altar richly decorated, and 
often purchased flowers for his parish church ; 
a pious practice he preserved during his whole 
life. In one of his hymns he sweetly says, that 
he envied those innocent creatures destined to 
repose night and day before their Creator, and 
breathe out their sweetest perfumes for him. In 
after life, he would procure the rarest seeds and 
cultivate them himself, to embellish the altars of 


the churches of his congregation ; a practice he 
often recommended to the rectors of the houses, 
for he ever loved to see the altars adorned with 
the choicest and most fragrant flowers. 

As a recompense for his tender devotion, the 
blessed sacrament became the source of all the 
graces bestowed on him through life : "If," said 
he, " I have abandoned the world to devote my 
self to God, I owe it entirely to Jesus in the most 
holy sacrament, though, alas ! coldness and in 
difference have so frequently mingled with my 
devotion to him." 

Alphonsus was accustomed during his after 
life to mention his friend, Francis, Duke of 
Casabona, in terms of the warmest gratitude. 
" Under God," he would say, " I owe it to him 
that I am not still the slave of the world, and a 
prey to my own passions." Nor was he less 
grateful towards the priests of the Mission. 
More than half a century later, he thus addressed 
the superior of that congregation, to whom he 
had just sent a copy of his translation of the 
Psalms : " Accept the profound respect of one 
who deems it an honor to be the son and servant 
of you and all members of your society ; for it 
was in your house, during the holy exercises of 
retreat, that I learned to know God, and resolved 
to renounce the world." 


Retreat of Alphonsus and his father. Effect on the latter. Another 
matrimonial project. The interrupted duet. Alphonsus 
gains his mother to his side. The lost cause. Emotions of 
Alphonsus. Measures of his parents. His resolutions. His 
opinion of the legal profession. Why he renounced it. 

IN March, 1723, Count Joseph and his son 
Alphonsus made a retreat in the house already 
mentioned, during which the latter was still 
more confirmed in his pious design of devoting 
himself to God. He determined to resign his 
birthright in favor of his brother Hercules, 
although he was as yet undecided as to whether 
he would abandon his legal practice. His 
father, knowing nothing of the extraordinary 
change which had just taken place in his heir, 
projected another marriage treaty. The lady 
was daughter of the Duke of Presenzano, and 
the proposals were at once agreed to by her 
father, to whom they had been made without 
the knowledge of Alphonsus. As he had- not 
courage to speak his whole mind to his parents, 
with a view of temporizing, he visited the 
Presenzano palace, but so unwillingly, that after 
wards he often said that in the amusements of 
which he partook he found only thorns, and 
longed only for the moment in which his martyr 
dom would end. 


The count used all possible means to counteract 
the manifest indifference, or, rather, repugnance 
of his son. He expatiated on the singular good 
qualities of the princess, her superior education, 
her cultivated mind and elegant manners ; argu 
ments which could have no weight with one who 
had vowed celibacy to God. Yet the reluctant 
Alphonsus feared to refuse decidedly ; his excuse 
was, that weakness of the chest and tendency to 
asthma warned him not to think of marriage. 
His father, attributing his evident reluctance to 
mere bashfulness, continued to take him fre 
quently to visit the young lady ; but on these 
occasions he behaved with such circumspection, 
that no one could suspect him of going thither 
as a suitor. 

One evening being invited to perform on the 
harpsichord, he willingly consented. The prin 
cess obligingly proposed to accompany him in a 
song, and rising, took her place by the instru 
ment, her face turned towards the embarrassed 
performer. Alphonsus immediately turned his 
head in an opposite direction ; and she, thinking 
it accidental, made a corresponding movement, 
but had no sooner done so, than he turned 
abruptly from her. Perceiving this, she was 
highly indignant, and immediately withdrew, 
remarking to the company: "That young 
gentleman has become moonstruck." Mortified 
though he was, he made neither apology nor 
explanation, preferring that the young lady 
should understand his real sentiments. Nor 
were the hints he gave her thrown away ; she 


herself declared to her father her unwilling, 
ness to marry a man who would hardly look 
at her. 

As his father was so obstinately bent on 
hastening- the marriage he had projected that he 
would hear of no excuse, the son had no 
resource but to open his mind to his mother, 
who unfortunately happened to be just as eager 
for the alliance as her husband. She urged 
upon him the advantages the family would 
derive from the connection, the displeasure his 
refusal would cause ; but to no purpose. He 
declared that nothing would induce him to 
settle in the world, and earnestly besought her 
to persuade the count to cease his importunities. 
The poor lady, knowing that her husband had 
set his heart on this union, was sorely puzzled ; 
but she did not long resist the passionate plead 
ings of her beloved son. 

A providential and most unlooked-for event 
soon changed the aspect of affairs, and de 
molished at one blow all the worldly hopes in 
dulged by Count Joseph for his son. The 
tribunals of Naples were occupied in 1723 with a 
feudal process of great importance between the 
Grand Duke of Tuscany and one of the most 
powerful nobles of the realm. Six hundred 
thousand ducats depended on the decision. Al- 
phonsus undertook the cause of the nobleman ; 
and after an entire month devoted to a most 
careful study of the case, he believed it im 
possible that he should not gain the cause for 
his client, so thoroughly had he mastered its 


salient points. Yet, despite his prolonged and 
severe study, he had completely overlooked 
one document, which was so important as to 
secure the victory to the adverse party. From 
the tenor of his speech, which was a masterpiece 
of erudition and eloquence, the opposing lawyer 
readily concluded that this important paper had 
entirely escaped him. On the conclusion of his 
eloquent address, one of them rose, and sarcas 
tically directed his attention to a certain docu 
ment which would prove the right to be in 
quite a contrary direction. " Produce it, then," 
said Alphonsus with assurance; "the decision 
depends on the question : Was the fief granted 
under the law of Lombardy, or under the 
French law?" But on examination, it was 
found that the Grand Duke s advocate was 
correct. " You are right," said Alphonsus, 
generously, " it is I who have been deceived." 
But never was a discovery more unexpected. 
Every one could perceive his emotion. Fear 
of being suspected of unfair dealing, filled him 
with consternation. It was in vain that the Pre 
sident Caravita, who loved him and relied on 
his integrity, endeavored to reassure him. He 
was perfectly inconsolable. Overwhelmed with 
confusion, his head sank on his breast, as he 
muttered : " World, I know thee now ! Courts 
of law, you shall never hear me plead again ! " 

Even in old age, he could never understand 
how that important paper had escaped him. 
But Providence had permitted him to overlook 
it, that it might be an occasion of opening a 


more direct way for the accomplishment of 
God s designs on him. 

He abruptly left the assembly, still repeating 
to himself: "World,! know thee now!" He 
entered his house, not knowing how he came 
there ; and gaining his chamber by a sort of 
instinct, fastened the door. When dinner was 
served, he was absent: his mother, knowing 
that he had returned from the courts, though 
ignorant of his distress, went to call him. He 
said he would eat nothing. She returned with 
some of the family, but to their reiterated 
entreaties he would not even reply. Towards 
supper time, they insisted that he would at 
least open the door, but they insisted in vain. 
All the household were alarmed, for no one was 
aware of what had happened in the courts. 

Next day, when his father who had been out 
of town came home, the countess informed him 
of the astonishing obstinacy of their son. He 
went straight to the room, but was refused 
admittance. Don Joseph could no longer dis 
semble his indignation ; and while his wife wept 
and cried out, "My son is dying! my son is 
dead !"" Well, then, let him die!" was the 
angry retort of her indignant husband. 

For three whole days he continued deaf to all 
entreaties ; but at last he opened the door to 
his mother, overcome by her tears. Even then 
he would not touch food, and it was with diffi 
culty she forced him to take a slice of melon, 
which, he afterwards declared, seemed more 
bitter than gall. 


This extraordinary and terrible emotion being 
somewhat calmed, a ray of divine light irradiated 
his bewildered soul, and showed him the utter 
vanity of all that ends with time. Obedient to 
the impulse of grace, he determined to break 
with the world for ever, and devote himself 
entirely to God ; though something was yet 
wanting to the perfection of his sacrifice. 

It was not, however, on account of the dis 
grace he imagined himself to have incurred in 
his last suit, that he renounced the bar. " Law 
is a dangerous profession," he afterwards re 
marked to a friend, " and exposes one to an 
unprovided death. I renounced it because I 
wished above all things to save my soul, and 
must under all circumstances follow the dictates 
of my conscience." 


Alphonsus begins to lead a life of seclusion. The anguish of his 
father. Alphonsus refuses to transact the legal business of his 
family. The birthday of the Empress Isabella. Supernatural 
favor. Final renunciation of the world. Favorite church of 
our saint. His devotion to Our Lady of Mercy. During his 
last visit to Naples he makes a no vena in her church. He 
acknowledges his indebtedness to the Mother of Mercy. 

ALPHONSUS now renounced the bar in good 
earnest. When rest had somewhat calmed his 
troubled spirit, and when he had bewailed before 
God the transports of grief and indignation in 
which he had indulged, he politely dismissed his 
clients, and began to lead in his own house the 
life of a hermit. Grace acted more and more 
powerfully on his soul ; his greatest pleasure was 
to divide his days chiefly between the church 
and the hospital of Incurables. When at home, 
he studied the lives of the saints, and entertained 
himself with God. 

But his chief delight was to kneel before the 
Blessed Sacrament in the church in which the 
forty hours adoration was being made. There 
he might be daily seen for two or three hours 
together, kneeling immovable, and so absorbed 
in his devotions, as to be unconscious of all that 
was passing around him. He thus drew upon 


himself the admiration of the pious, especially 
of some priests who were greatly devoted to this 
adorable mystery. 

The behavior of the son was a source of the 
greatest distress to the worldly-wise father. 
" What can he be thinking of?" said he to the 


mother ; and the Lady Anna shared his uneasi 
ness. They had a presentiment of the truth, 
but knew not how to baffle the projects of their 
son. One day, Count Joseph handed Alphonsus 
a process of much interest to the family, de 
siring him to examine it. " Give it to some 
one else," returned the youth, " the tribunals no 
longer suit me ; henceforth I will occupy myself 
solely with my salvation." This reply fell like 
a thunderbolt on the ambitious father, and he 
began to weep bitterly. His wife offered all 
the consolation her tenderness suggested, and 
expressed a hope that, when the crisis was over, 
their son would resume his practice. 

u No, no," sighed the Count, " Alphonsus is too 
obstinate ; he will never waver ; " yet he hoped 
against hope, that the event would prove him a 
false prophet. 

Another altercation soon took place. It was 
the birthday of the Empress Isabella, wife of 
Charles VI (August 28) ; a day ever memorable in 
the annals of our saint. There was to be a grand 
fete at court, at which Don Joseph wished to 
assist with his heir. " What should I do there ? " 
replied the latter, abruptly : " all that is but 
vanity." The Count, transported with rage, ex 
claimed : " Do what you like go where you 


please ! " Alphonsus, grieved that he had pro 
voked him, said gently : " Do not be offended, 
dear father; I will accompany you to court." 
" Go where you will do what you will," reiter 
ated the count in a rage, and turning his back 
upon his son, he entered the carriage, and 
drove to his country house, where he gave free 
vent to his chagrin. 

Deeply afflicted at seeing the vexation of his 
father, Alphonsus exclaimed : " My God ! what 
shall I do? If I resist him, I do wrong; if I 
obey him, I do worse." In hopes of finding con 
solation by assuaging the miseries of others, he 
went to the hospital of Incurables. This refuge 
for the most grievous physical maladies, was to 
become a paradise to him. It was here that 
God awaited him, as he had awaited Moses in 
the burning bush. At a moment when the care 
of the sick completely absorbed him, he was 
suddenly surrounded with resplendent light. 
The house seemed to be shaken as by a violent 
earthquake, and a voice repeated : " Forsake 
the world, and give thyself entirely to me." 
Awed and amazed, he continued to wait on his 
patients; but when about to leave the house, 
just as he reached the staircase, the same light 
again encircled him, and the same solemn words 
resounded once more in his ears. 

Alphonsus waited no longer. Like another 
Saul, he was perfectly converted to God. 
Weeping bitterly, he cried out: "My God! I 
have too long resisted thy grace. Here I am 
at last: do with me what Thou pleasest. 


Deeply moved, and, as it were, out of himself 
he proceeded to the church of our Lady of 
Mercy, a cnurch he loved to frequent, at 
tracted at first by the magnificent statue of the 
Blessed Virgin which adorned it. He pros- 
trated himself before the altar, and earnestly 
xnplored the protection of his Mother in 

Environed with celestial light which radiated 
from his countenance, he consecrated himself 
unreservedly to God, renouncing the world and 
its vanities, offering generously the sacrifice of 
his birthright, and promising to enter the con 
gregation of St. Philip Neri. As a pledge of his 
fidelity, he laid his sword on the altar of Our 
Lady of Mercy. 

This memorable day was ever present to the 
mind of Alphonsus. He called it the day of his 
conversion, and never visited Naples without 
repairing to the church of Our Lady of Mercy, 
to thank the divine goodness for the multitude 
and greatness of the favors there showered on 
him, through the mediation of his divine 

In his last visit to Naples, he made in his 
favorite church the novena preparatory to Our 
Lady s Nativity, and went thither to pray as 
often as his occupations permitted. " Behold," 
said he to two friends, on one of these occasions, 
pointing to the image of Mary " behold her 
who attracted me from the world, that I might 
consecrate myself to her in the ecclesiastical 


Evening of the memorable day. Remark of Father Pagano. 
Fervor of his penitent. He remains three days without food. 
Interior lights. Holy impatience of the youth. His father 
endeavors to persuade him to resume his profession. Firmness 
of the saint. Scenes between father and son, which disturb 
domestic tranquillity. 

ON the evening of this memorable day, our 
saint confided to his confessor what had passed ; 
declaring that he was resolved to join the 
Oratorians immediately. "This is not a thing 
to be hastily decided," prudently observed 
Father Pagano ; " I must think it over for a year 
before I can give you a decisive answer." " A 
year ! " cried Alphonsus ; " I will not wait a 
single day." The wise director admired his 
fervor and encouraged his design; and after 
suggesting several suitable reflections, concluded 
with these words : " Let us recommend the 
matter to Jesus and Mary." The youth 
returned to his father s house, but his heart and 
soul were in the oratory. 

For three days after these remarkable occur 
rences, he tasted no food, eager to do penance 
for his delay in obeying the call of grace ; but if 
his body languished for want of nourishment, 


his soul was filled with heavenly manna. lie 
discovered to Father Pagano the interior lights 
which irradiated his soul ; the holy violence 
which grace exercised over his heart ; the dis 
gust he felt for all that this world values ; and 
the holy impatience with which he sighed to 
consecrate himself wholly to God among the 
children of St. Philip. The pious director recog 
nized in all this the evident and incontestable 
operation of grace, and mentioned to the, 
Superior and other Fathers the vocation of the 
youth; but their unanimous opinion was, thai 
this affair should be concluded very gradually 
so as to obviate, as much as possible, the griei 
it would cause the Liguori family. 

His father, who had been absent while these 
events transpired, on his return learned with 
dismay that his son had not shown himself at 
table for three days. His vexation was excess 
ive, yet he controlled himself so far as to plead, 
with all possible gentleness, that Alphonsus 
would renounce his present views and resume 
his practice, enlarging on the losses the course 
he contemplated would entail upon the whole 
family. But he pleaded in vain. 

Similar scenes were daily repeated, and to 
such an extent, that the household was in con 
stant commotion. Sometimes the affliction of 
Don Joseph became so violent, as to distress 
extremely both his wife and his son. Yet the 
resolution of the latter remained unshaken. 
Neither prayers nor tears had the slightest effect 
on him in this particular; he trusted in God, 


and bore sweetly, for his sake, the pains and 
penalties of his present state, imploring con 
tinually the divine aid to be faithful to the 
graces bestowed on him. 

One day Don Joseph, unusually excited at the 
thought of his son s splendid talents being lost 
in inaction, exclaimed with unwonted bitterness : 
" Would to God that either of us was called out 
of the world, for I can no longer bear to look at 
you ! " This urged Alphonsus to put his resolu 
tion in practice. " What ! " said he within him 
self, " am I then an object of horror in the eyes 
of my father, that he beseeches God to separate 
us by death ? Henceforth God is my only friend : 
I must be satisfied with him alone." 

He then renewed his vows, offering himself to 
God a living sacrifice. Hitherto he had feared 
to declare his intentions, but now he felt courage 
to speak out manfully : " My father," said he, soon 
after, " it is I who cause your affliction, and there 
fore I must tell you that I am no longer for this 
world. God has called me to the Oratory ; do 
not be offended if I follow my vocation, but con 
sole me with your benediction." These words 
froze the blood in Count Liguori s veins. In 
the utmost consternation he withdrew to his 
chamber, where his profound grief vented itself 
in groans and lamentations. But he did not 
remain long in this dismal solitude. Coming 
forth to the room in which his son was, he 
regarded him with an^expression of unutterable 
contempt. Thenceforth he treated him with 
extreme severity, and went so far as to deny 


him the necessary clothing. Consequently his 
heir was seen abroad in torn garments. 

This means proving ineffectual, the devil sug 
gested a more dangerous one to the bewildered 
father : the most tender entreaties, the most 
pathetic exhortations, the mediation of friends 
he would cloud the brilliant prospects of his 
brothers with the Austrian court he would ruin 
their interests he was not guided by a divine 
inspiration, but by a diabolical illusion: even 
priests were against him. Father de Miro in 
sisted that he was influenced by a melancholy 
humor, and urged him to obey his father. " Be 
assured, reverend sir," replied the saint, " God 
has called me out of the world : I must conform 
to His will, not to the wishes of my father." 

Others were employed by his father to shake 
his resolution, but their efforts were fruitless. 
His constant reply was : " God has called me, I 
cannot resist him." At last, the unhappy old 
man threw himself on his child s neck, exclaim 
ing in tones of anguish: " My son, my dear son, 
do not forsake me ! " Terribly as these manifes 
tations of paternal tenderness affected our saint, 
his resolution remained unshaken. Finally, his 
maternal uncle, Monsignor Cavalieri, Bishop of 
Troia, was commissioned, or, at least, entreated 
to use his authority with the obstinate heir. 

But the pious prelate, convinced that his 
nephew only obeyed a divine call, replied: 
" What a beautiful commission you entrust to 
me! I myself renounced my right of primo 
geniture, the better to secure my salvation ; and 


now you want me to risk my nephew s soul and 
my own." 

Another distinguished ecclesiastic, yielding to 
the importunities of the inconsolable father, 
essayed to argue the youth out of a divine voca 
tion, but he, too, was repulsed : " I have been 
the devil s advocate with Don Alphonsus," said 
he, later on, " but I could make no impression 
on him." 

Amid these trials, Alphonsus had some de 
fenders of his cause. Besides Monsignor Caval- 
ieri, Father Vincent Cutica, superior of the 
priests of the mission, Father Pagano, the canon 
Peter Gizzio, also his uncle, and several other 
ecclesiastics, ably befriended him. These true 
friends of both parties at length succeeded in 
obtaining from the count a reluctant consent to 
his becoming a priest, provided he did not leave 
the paternal mansion. The Bishop of Troia 
advised him to submit for the present to this 
condition ; and Don Joseph could no longer 
avoid presenting his son to the Archbishop of 
Naples, Cardinal Pignatelli. His Eminence, 
struck with the firmness of the youth, exclaimed : 
" What ! does Don Alphonsus Liguori want to 
become a priest?" "Would to God it were 
otherwise," replied the afflicted father, unable to 
conceal his agitation, " but his resolution is 

Even after this decisive step, Don Joseph re 
fused, on one pretext or another, to furnish 
ecclesiastical costume for his son ; but Alphon 
sus found means to provide it himself, and on 


the 23d of October, 1723, renounced forever the 
livery of the world. When he appeared before 
the count in the garb of a cleric, the old man 
uttered a piercing shriek, and for a year after 
never addressed a word to his once idolized son. 


The parents. Former friends. Maio changes his opinions. 
Domini Bruno. Newer and truer friends. Cheering prophecy. 
Zeal of our saint for little children. Contrast between Don 
Alphonsus the successful lawyer, and Alphonsus the catechiser 
of little ones. 

THE unhappy nobleman refused even to meet 
his son. If he chanced to perceive him at a 
distance, he would take an opposite route to 
avoid all contact with him. The heart of his 
mother, however, could not repudiate him. Far 
from it : she now recognized his vocation as the 
work of God, and cheerfully submitting to the 
divine will, endeavored to soothe the irritation 
of her husband, and second the intentions of her 
best-beloved child. 

The world continued to condemn him loudly. 
Lawyers and senators, who were formerly proud 
to be in the category of his friends, now con 
victed him, unheard, of the most egregious folly. 
The President Maio, who had heretofore shown 
him the tenderness of a father, would not now 
tolerate him in his presence, and passed him by 
as a creature utterly beneath his notice. 

Later, however, Maio judged differently. On 
his death-bed, when visited by Alphonsus, he 
cried out: " Oh, Don Alphonsus! how happy 


are you to have comprehended and followed 
your vocation ! You have chosen the sure path : 
would that I had done likewise! Miser 
able wretch that I am, I must now appear before 
the tribunal of God, and render an account 
of all the judgments I have passed upon others. 
Alas ! you were truly wise, but I was blind to 
my real interests." 

One reads with pleasure the following little 
anecdote : A celebrated advocate of the day, 
Don Dominic Bruno, who had recently been 
defeated by Alphonsus in an important lawsuit, 
met him clothed in the ecclesiastical dress, and 
having congratulated him on his choice, added : 
" God forgive you, Don Alphonsus, for not tak 
ing this step a year sooner. I should then be 
saved the disgrace and disappointment the loss 
of that suit caused me." 

But if worldly friends deserted our saint, God 
was not slow to replace them by others more 
sincere, who had similar aims and aspirings. 
Among these was the Reverend Joseph Por- 
pora. He had often been edified by the devo 
tion of Don Alphonsus when he saw him pro 
strate for hours before the Blessed Sacrament ; 
but he did not discover who this model of 
piety was, until after he had seen him in the 
ecclesiastical dress. He wished to make his 
acquaintance, but human respect restrained him. 
One day, however, seeing him conversing with 
a mutual friend, Reverend John Mazzini, he 
threw himself between them, unable to dissem 
ble his feelings any longer, and cried out: 


" And I also wish to belong to you/ Then em 
bracing Alphonsus, he foretold the blessings 
Heaven would hereafter shed upon him and his 
followers, congratulated him upon his vocation, 
and declared himself his friend and companion. 
From that time the three friends were one. 
Every evening they might be seen before the 
Blessed Sacrament, in whatever church the 
forty hours devotion was being celebrated ; and 
they continued to excite one another to advance 
in the path of perfection. 

Having received the ecclesiastical habit, 
Alphonsus attached himself to the parish of St. 
Angelo. He immediately offered his services to 
the pastor, and every day afterward might be 
seen serving mass, and assisting at all the 
ceremonies. So remarkable was the modesty o* 
his deportment, that the very world, which had 
lately proclaimed him a fool, now loudly ap 
plauded his generosity in sacrificing his brilliant 
prospects for the love of God. What excited 
the greatest admiration was, to see him going 
about, crucifix in hand, in search of children. 
These little ones he would lead to the church, 
singing simple canticles, often of his own com 
posing, and catechise them with the greatest 
zeal, especially when preparing them for first 
communion. The contrast between Alphonsus 
the catechist, and Don Alphonsus de Liguori 
who had so frequently electrified the tribunals 
of Naples by his eloquence, was sufficiently 
strong to attract the attention, if not the ad 
miration, of the whole city. 



Alphonsus applies himself to ecclesiastical studies. He seeks the 
society of the most eminent churchmen. His hymns become 
popular. He becomes more austere. He receives the tonsure 
and is ordained subdeacon. New occupations. He joins the 
congregation of the mission. The rules he observed as a candi 
date for the priesthood. His first sermon. Illness. Miracu 
lous recovery. Rules for a priest. 

ALPHONSUS had no sooner embraced the eccle 
siastical state, than he sought to perfect himself 
in all the learning so holy a vocation exacts. 
Already well versed in belles-lettres, philosophy, 
civil and canon law, he now devoted his time to 
the study of the Holy Scriptures, and moral and 
dogmatic theology ; the canon, Julius Torni, 
afterwards bishop of Arcadiapolis> a man emi 
nent for learning and virtue, being his principal 
master. As, when a law-student, he had fre 
quented the house of the President Caravita to 
increase his knowledge of jurisprudence, so 
now, having become an ecclesiastic, he sought 
out the most learned among the Neapolitan 
clergy, whose houses were soon transformed 
into academies for theological sciences. The 
elegant accomplishments he had already ac 
quired, he consecrated entirely to the glory ol 
God ; and he had the satisfaction of seeing the 


beautiful hymns he set to music, replace, in 
many instances, the loose and dangerous songs 
which had unfortunately become popular. 

From the date of his assuming the clerical 
habit, his life became more austere. His time 
was chiefly devoted to prayer and study ; he 
crucified his flesh and refused his senses every 
indulgence ; used the discipline, wore a hair 
shirt, and practised all kinds of penitential 
exercises. He fasted every Saturday on bread 
and water, in honor of the Blessed Virgin; his 
clothes were of the plainest description ; for a 
while, to please his father, he tolerated the 
attendance of a footman, but he soon dispensed 
with this incumbrance, and traversed the streets 
of Naples unattended, like the poorest of the 

In December, 1724, he received the tonsure 
from Monsignor Mirabello, Archbishop of 
Nazareth ; and nine months later, September 
23d, 1725, he was promoted to minor orders, in 
virtue of a dispensation from Cardinal Pignatelli. 
In December he was made subdeacon, and im 
mediately after, entered as a novice in the Con 
gregation of the Missions, which then counted 
among its members the elite of the clergy and 
the clerical nobility of the Neapolitan kingdom. 

He at once applied himself diligently to the 
observance of the rules ; he frequently accom 
panied the missionaries to country places and 
catechised the children. Nor did his zeal find 
full scope in this congregation. He also aided 
the Fathers of St. Vincent, and associated him- 


self to a society called the Congregation of the 
White Monks, whose object was to procure the 
comforts of religion for condemned criminals. 

We will here transcribe the rules he com 
posed fgf his guidance as a candidate for the 
priesthood : 

1. The cleric ought to frequent the society 
of holy priests, to be edified by their example. 

2. He should spend at least one hour daily in 
mental prayer, that he may live in fervor and 

3. He ought to visit the Blessed Sacramenl 
frequently, especially during the time of exposi 

4. He should read the lives of holy priests, 
that he may imitate their virtues. 

5. He must cultivate a special devotion to the 
Holy Virgin, the Mother and Queen of the 
clergy, and consecrate himself particularly to 
her service. 

6. For the honor of the ecclesiastical state, he 
must be most careful of his reputation. 

7. He ought to fly worldly conversation, and 
not be too familiar with the laity, especially 

8. Seeing God in his superiors, he must obey 
them, because such is the divine will. 

9. He should be modest, but without affecta 
tion, severity, or fastidiousness, and he should 
always wear the cassock and tonsure. 

10. He ought to be quiet and gentle at home, 
exemplary in class, and edifying in the church, 
especially during the public offices. 


11. He ought to confess every eight days, 
and communicate still oftener. 

12. In short, the priest should have negative 
sanctity, that is, to live free from sin ; and he 
ought to have positive sanctity, that is, to prac 
tise every virtue. 

Edified by his sanctity, the Cardinal Arch 
bishop conferred upon him deacon s orders on 
the 6th of April, 1726, by dispensation, and 
authorized him to preach in all the churches in 

His first sermon was preached in the Church 
of St. John at the Latin Gate, from this text of 
Isaiah : O, that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and . 
come down! the waters would burn with fire. His 
burning zeal and eloquence touched all hearts. 
He painted in glowing colors the wondrous love 
Jesus Christ bears us, and our monstrous in 
gratitude towards this divine and eternal Lover 
So powerful were the effects of this sermon, 
that invitations to preach poured in upon him 
from all quarters. His favorite subject was the 
Eucharist, and he usually preached in the 
church in which the Blessed Sacrament was 
exposed. He spoke with vehemence of the 
hideousness of vice, and the injury it does to 
God ; and the people, in their eagerness to hear 
him, deserted the other churches. Though only 
a deacon, the Fathers of the Mission sent him 
into various parts of the kingdom ; and he 
preached with such unction and eloquence, as 
to promote in a wonderful manner the glory of 
God in the salvation of souls. 


Don Joseph became more afflicted than ever, 
fearing that the young deacon would shorten 
his days by his excessive labors and austerities. 
The Lady Anna shared his sentiments : though 
she felt great consolation in seeing her son so 
devoted to the apostolic life, she could not bear 
to think of losing him. She wept continually, 
and conjured the Fathers of his acquaintance, 
especially his confessor, Father Pagano, to urge 
him to mitigate his astonishing labors and 
mortifications. The fears of the anxious parents 
were but too well realized. Mind and body, 
overcome by continued exertion, sank beneath 
an illness of so fatal a character, that the 
physicians, despairing of his recovery, sent one 
night in haste for a priest to administer the last 
sacraments to their exhausted patient. 

In this extremity, experiencing an extraordi 
nary sentiment of confidence in Our Blessed 
Lady of Mercy, he eagerly besought the at 
tendants to go to the Church and bring him her 
statue, before which he had renounced the 
world. They did not refuse him this consola 
tion : the miraculous image was brought to his 
room and placed upon his bed. He was im 
mediately pronounced out of danger, so speedily 
was his confidence rewarded by Our Blessed 

On the 2 ist of December, 1726, he was or 
dained priest ; and from that date, his ardor and 
zeal redoubled. On descending from the altar, 
he seemed ready, like a lion, to pounce upon 
the strongholds of Satan, so amazing was the 


love that consumed him. Cardinal Pignatelli* 
appointed him, almost immediately after his 
ordination, to give spiritual exercises to the 
clergy of Naples; and his Eminence had reason 
to congratulate himself upon his choice, for he 
saw in an unmistakable manner that God sig 
nally blessed the ministry of his servant. 

Yet the cardinal was severely criticised for 
thus distinguishing the young priest. " There are 
.some," said a person in authority, " who thrust 
into the ministry subjects wholly untried, heed 
less of the danger to which they expose them." 
Nevertheless, the prelate was right; ere many 
days elapsed, all Naples testified to the virtue 
of Alphonsus, and spoke with admiration of the 
apostolic spirit which animated him. 

We will give here what Alphonsus wrote at 
this epoch on the obligations of a priest who 
wished to attain sanctity, merely adding that it 
was the rule by which he regulated his own 

1. I am a priest, my dignity is above that of 
the angels. I should then lead a life of angelic 
purity, and I am obliged to strive for this by all 
possible means. 

2. A God deigns to obey my voice. I ought 
with far greater reason to obey His, speaking to 
me through his inspirations, or my superiors. 

3. The Holy Church has honored me ; 1 
must therefore honor myself, by sanctity of life, 
by my zeal and labors, etc. 

4. I offer to the Eternal Father Jesus Christ, 
his Son ; it is then my duty to clothe myself 


with the virtues of Jesus Christ, that I may be 
come fit for my office. 

5. Christian people see in me a minister of 
reconciliation, a mediator between God and 
man ; consequently, I must always keep myself 
in the grace and friendship of God. 

6. The faithful desire to see in me a model 
of the virtues to which they should aspire ; I 
must then be edifying always and under all 

7. Poor sinners who have lost the light of 
grace, come to me to be spiritually resuscitated ; 
I must therefore aid them by my prayers, 
exhortations, and good example. 

8. Courage is necessary to triumph over the 
world, the flesh, and the devil ; I must then cor 
respond with divine grace, that I may combat 
these enemies victoriously. 

9. To defend religion and fight against error 
and impiety, one must have knowledge. I will 
then strive, by every means within my reach, to 
acquire the necessary knowledge. 

10. Human respect and worldly friendships 
dishonor the priesthood ; I will then avoid 

11. Ambition and self-interest have often 
caused priests to lose their faith ; I must then 
abhor these vices as sources of reprobation. 

12. Gravity should accompany charity in a 
priest ; I will then be prudent and reserved, 
especially with regard to women, without being 
proud, rough, or disdainful. 

13. I can please God only by recollection, 


Our Lady, choosing the least frequented 
churches, to avoid all display, being penetrated 
with repentance and confusion for the scandal 
he had formerly given. Once a week he 
brought his scholars to confession, disposed the 
more advanced for communion, and during 
mass suggested acts of contrition, faith, hope, 
and charity. After communion he pronounced 
aloud the acts of thanksgiving ; a pious custom 
still observed in the Neapolitan churches. 

The other remarkable conversion was that of 
Lucas Nardone, who had long led an irregular 
life as a soldier. Several times he had deserted, 
and his last desertion had been so audacious 
that death might have been the penalty, had not 
his brother, an officer of the royal guard, inter 
ceded for him. He was, however, expelled the 
army as an incorrigible wretch. One day he hap 
pened to hear Alphonsus preach, and immediately 
grace touched his hardened heart. He knelt 
before our saint, confessed his innumerable 
crimes, and, consoled and encouraged by Al 
phonsus, began to lead so holy a life that he edi 
fied all, and attracted many souls to Jesus Christ. 

Alphonsus never used far-fetched or studied 
language to dispose sinners to repentance ; and 
yet his words were so efficacious that they 
overcame the most obstinate. All his auditors 
attested that his appeals were accompanied by a 
special influence of the Holy Spirit, which 
urged sinners to repentance; often he had no 
sooner opened his mouth than compunction 
penetrated their hearts. 


A young gentleman once accused himself in 
confession of several enormous crimes, in a tone 
of the utmost indifference; when he paused, 
Alphonsus asked if he had any more to say. 
The youth answered in the negative. " What ! " 
returned the saint, " is that all ? Now do you 
not see that the only thing required to make 
you a Turk is the turban ? Tell me now, my 
son," he continued, in accents of touching 
tenderness, " what evil has Jesus Christ done 

These words went directly to the heart of the 
sinner, and, filled with confusion, he said to him 
self, " Have I then committed such crimes that 
there cannot be greater ? " and in sentiments of 
the deepest contrition, he bewailed his past dis 
orders, and having placed himself entirely under 
the guidance of Alphonsus, ever after led a most 
exemplary life. 

The means our saint employed to lead his 
penitents to perfection were chiefly two : medita 
tion or prayer, and mortification of the passions. 
Meditation, as the mirror in which the soul sees 
her own deformity ; and mortification, as a knife 
to cut or prune all the excrescences of nature. 
" There is no true prayer," he affirmed, " without 
mortification, nor is there any true mortification 
without the spirit of prayer." 

But above all remedies, he prescribed fre 
quent communion and daily visits to the Blessed 
Sacrament. In his admirable little book of 
" Visits to the Blessed Sacrament," he acknow 
ledges that this devotion had been in his regard 


the source of all the graces he had received 
while living in the world. " O what exquisite 
happiness," he would exclaim, " to converse 
familiarly with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, 
asking pardon for our sins, exposing our wants 
as a friend does to a friend, and begging his 
love with its abundant graces ! Can any thing 
be sweeter to a faithful soul? " 

While in Naples, he always advised his peni 
tents to pay their court to Jesus in the church 
when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed during 
the forty hours adoration. There might he him 
self be seen in an ecstasy of devotion for several 
hours, encircled by his faithful penitents. 

He inspired them likewise with a filial confi 
dence in the divine mother, Mary. " As all 
good comes to us from the celestial Father 
though the mediation of Jesus Christ; so all 
good comes to us from Jesus Christ, through 
the medium of Mary. " He wished all to recite 
the Rosary daily in her honor, visit her altar in 
some church, and place her picture at the head 
of their bed. With his penitents, each of her 
feasts was a day of general communion ; and 
he was careful to propose some devout exercise 
for her novenas, to dispose them to receive 
her favors. He used to fast in her honor on 
Saturdays and the eves of festivals, and he 
frequently recommended to others the same 
salutary practice. 


Conferences. Our saint s audiences. Other priests take part in 
the good work. What is new, not necessarily wrong. The 
cutlets. A captain of the Royal Guard mystified. The 
governor orders the arrest of preachers and auditors. The 
order executed. Alphonsus appeals to the Cardinal. False 
reports. Good effected. Fervent disciples. 

ALTHOUGH our saint preferred to devote him 
self to the poor, he did not refuse to hear the 
confessions of people of the highest rank, well 
knowing how powerful their example is for 
good or evil. But his chief delight was to 
evangelize the poor. So great was the crowd 
that applied to him for spiritual direction, thai 
he judged it expedient to assemble them during 
the summer evenings in some solitary place, 
and give collectively the instruction he had not 
leisure to bestow on individuals. His audience 
consisted of nobles and lazzaroni, with many 
laborers who, after the day s toil, walked a con 
siderable distance to hear him ; and it was 
remarked that, the lower the condition of the 
auditors, the more friendly was their reception. 
Other priests took part in the good work, among 
whom were Fathers Porpora, Alteriis, Mazzini, 
and Sarnelli. Alphonsus preached daily to this 
motley assemblage, enlarging particularly on the 
loathsomeness of vice and the sublime beauty 
of virtue. 


There were some individuals residing in the 
neighborhood to whom these meetings seemed 
not a little strange, they taking it for granted that, 
because they were somewhat novel, they must 
necessarily be evil. In hopes of confirming 
their suspicions, they concealed themselves 
behind their windows to hear what was going 
on. Now, some of the poor people were so 
eager to do penance, that they fasted far more 
rigorously than our saint would allow ; and one 
artisan, though obliged to work hard for his 
family, had already begun to live on roots and 
raw vegetables. Alphonsus reprehended him 
severely for this excess, and forbade him to 
continue it. Father Porpora, happening to be 
present, remarked that God wills we should eat 
in order to live ; and he added laughing : " If 
any one gives you a few cutlets, eat them without 
scruple, and much good may they do you." 
The audience were highly amused at this, and 
passed the joke from one to another. The 
listeners, catching only the words, " cutlets " 
and " eating," put an ill construction upon the 
whole, and ranked all concerned in the cate 
gory of libertines or Molinists. 

This was not all ; they reported their conject 
ures to Cardinal Pignatelli as facts; and as 
the accusation was lodged against nocturnal 
assemblies, His Eminence was ready to believe 
the worst. Information was conveyed to the 
Governor of Naples, who immediately ordered 
a captain of the guard to attend one of the 
meetings, in disguise. They were then making 


the no vena of the Nativity of Our Lady; and 
Alphonsus, to illustrate some truth he wished to 
impress upon his simple auditors, happened to 
mention some articles necessary for an infant s 
wardrobe. The captain was completely mysti 
fied. He immediately reported to the governor 
that he had heard a melange of things good, bad, 
and indifferent, but was wholly unable to infer 
from them the purport of the meeting. 

His Excellency at once leaned to the opinion, 
that it was composed of evil-minded persons; 
and he the more readily acted on his suspicions, 
as some bands of Lutheran soldiers had lately 
created considerable disturbance in the city. 
He therefore, in conjunction with the cardinal, 
ordered the arrest of all, preachers and people. 

Next morning, Alphonsus, calling by chance 
on the archbishop, happened to hear of this 
order, and suspecting that it referred to his own 
assemblies, hastened to warn his penitents not 
to go to the usual meeting-place. It was im 
possible to reach all. Consequently, those who 
lived at a distance came, and amon^ them were 


the fervent penitents, Peter Barbarese and Lucas 

They had scarcely arrived when they were 
surrounded by archers and soldiers, and carried 
off to the guard-house, whence they were cited 
before the fiscal procurator. " Comrade," said 
Lucas to Peter, " I would like to know whether 
this courtesy is to your taste." " I am perfectly 
satisfied," returned Barbarese ; " they treat us 
much more civilly than the Jews treated our 


dear Lord. His arms were bound with ropes, 
and mine are bound only with a pocket-hand 

The procurator having ordered them to spe 
cify their nocturnal proceedings, they replied : 
" As we are poor ignorant creatures, Don 
Alphonsus Liguori and other priests instruct us 
in our duties as Christians." On hearing the 
name of Liguori, the representative of the law 
exclaimed : " May God forgive you ! you have 
alarmed two courts, the ecclesiastical and the 

The governor, in whose house they were, 
took pleasure in questioning them about the 
pious practices they had been taught; but, as 
he proceeded, they heard the sound of bells 
announcing that the Holy Viaticum was being 
carried through the streets; they immediately 
prostrated themselves upon the balcony, cry 
ing out : " It is our Divine Spouse ! it is our 
Divine Spouse ! " The governor asked no more 
questions, but dismissed them with tears of ten 
derness and consolation. 

Alphonsus, upon hearing of this arrest, went 
to the cardinal, and acknowledged himself alone 
as guilty of whatever might be considered repre 
hensible in the meetings. His Eminence quieted 
him, by expressing satisfaction at the good he 
had done, but nevertheless advised him to dis 
continue these meetings. " The times are too 
critical," said he ; " we must be careful that 
wolves in sheeps clothing do not do harm 
under the shadow of your name." 


Yet a false report spread through Naples, and 
Alphonsus and his companions were constantly 
asked to offer their prayers to God for the con 
version of the heretics ! One of the Camaldo- 
lese Fathers one day asked Father Mazzini, who 
had just said mass in their convent, whether 
any thing else had been discovered touching 
the new sect that had lately appeared. " What 
sect?" asked Mazzini. "The sect of Cutlets" 
returned the monk, and he volunteered the 
following particulars : " We have heard that 
certain priests every evening meet certain people 
at the Place of the Star they form a species of 
club. Some think them Molinists." 

Mazzini reassured the good Brother, saying 
pleasantly that no great danger was to be ap 
prehended from the new sectaries. Alphonsus, 
however, had already done immense good by 
his conferences ; many of those who heard them, 
ever after led the lives of saints. Some entered 
religion, others remained in the world, but 
adorned it by their virtue. The most remark 
able among the latter were Antonio Penino, who 
sold eggs through the town, yet found means, 
while pursuing this trade, to draw many souls 
from perdition ; and Leonardo Christano, who 
went through the streets with his ass, and sold 
chesnuts. Both of these traders wrought mira 
cles during their lives and after death. 


B^rbarese continues the work of the conferences. Reminiscences 
of Brother Angiolo. The seed bears fruit. Sentiments of our 
saint. Exercises of his penitents. He establishes a school 
for women. Labors in the hospital. Exercises for the 
patients. Perseverance of Barbarese. Meeting between him 
and Alphonsus. Death of this good man. Death of Nardone. 

ALPHONSUS, being prohibited his favorite con 
ferences, endeavored to defeat the machinations 
of the devil, by suggesting to his docile disciple, 
Barbarese, that he and a few others might in 
struct the lazzaroni and other poor people, tak 
ing precaution to select for the purpose places 
remote from public observation. 

Barbarese, thus encouraged, began to instruct 
the little errand boys of a neighboring barber s 
shop. A priest, who noted the good he effected, 
advised him to assemble his little flock in a 
chapel hard by. He did so ; and every evening 
some sixty young people attended, as well as 
several of more mature age. 

Lucas Nardone and several others pursued a 
similar course in various quarters of the city, 
and Alphonsus frequently visited these reunions, 
to animate the zeal of his penitents and excite 
them to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Crucified.- 

Brother Angiolo, a saintly religious, of the 
order of St. Peter Alcantara, used, in old age, 
to describe one of these meetings which he at- 



tended when a boy. A wool-carder by trade, he 
one day strolled into a barber s shop, and seeing 
several persons enter the inner part of the house, 
he became curious to know their business. 

Following the last comer, he found within 
several persons, some sitting, some kneeling be 
fore an image of Mary, and on his inquiring the 
meaning of all this, a man answered : " It is here 
Don Alphonsus instructs us in the science of 
salvation ; and when he does not come, our host 
takes his place." 

Alphonsus not appearing, the barber fulfilled 
the function of catechist, after which all per 
formed various acts of piety. The wool-carder 
was so touched by this spectacle, that he never 
after missed a meeting, till, touched by grace, 
he embraced an austere rule, under the name of 
Brother Angiolo. 

Peter Barbarese presided over the most 
numerous flock. One evening, Canon Romano 
was taking a walk in the vicinity, when a friend 
met him and said : " Come with me, and I will 
give you an agreeable surprise." On seeing 
the canon, Peter rose and courteously offered 
him a seat. 

Delighted with what he saw and heard, 
Romano could not help telling the whole to 
the cardinal, who was so much pleased that 
he suggested to his informant to instruct the 
people himself. Peter gladly resigned his post, 
and immediately began to assemble the porters 
and lazzaroni of another district. Thus did 
the grain of mustard seed multiply, till, in 


every quarter of Naples, the fervent penitents of 
Alphonsus might be seen instructing and cate 
chising the ignorant. 

In after times, Alphonsus never came to 
Naples without visiting those favorite haunts, 
and exhorting all to persevere in the divine 
service, and in gaining conquests to Jesus Christ. 
He was particularly consoled by the thought, 
that the overthrow of one good work had been 
the very means of establishing another, far more 
important and more glorious to God. 

Very soon these assemblies, protected by the 
cardinal, emerged from shops and back alleys, 
and were transferred to churches and oratories. 
Every evening, at the Angelus bell, the associates 
commenced their devotions and continued them 
for about an hour and a half. Rosary, acts of 
faith, hope, and charity, half an hour s instruc 
tion on some Christian duties, fully occupied 
their time. Every Saturday zealous priests 
heard their confessions, and on Sundays, after a 
half hour s meditation on the sufferings of Christ, 
they heard mass and received holy communion, 
a priest pronouncing aloud the affections and 
thanksgivings, all concluding with Benediction. 

Such is the origin of the Chapels established in 
Naples by Alphonsus and his penitents. Their 
number continued to increase. In 1734, they 
amounted to one hundred, in each of which over 
three hundred persons of the working classes 
assembled. There is no tax to pay, no special 
office, no formality of association, the doors 
are open to all ; and the working has been such, 


that the archbishops of Naples have derived 
the greatest satisfaction from these humble 

Alphonsus established similar meetings for 
women, but this good work lasted no longer 
than the life of the worthy lady whom he 
selected to preside over it. 

The members of these assemblies afterwards 
agreed to visit the public hospitals on Sundays 
and Thursdays. They made the beds, swept 
the floor, attended to the spiritual wants of the 
patients, exhorted them to patience, and pre 
pared them for the sacraments. When every 
thing was arranged for the comfort of the 
patients, a zealous priest exposed the Blessed 
Sacrament on a gallery prepared for it, and 
having spoken for a short time on some Chris 
tian truth, carried it through all the wards to 
bless and console the suffering. 

Barbarese and Nardone lived to an advanced 
age, and persevered to the end in their pious 
labors. The only -visit Alphonsus made to the 
capital during his episcopate, was an occasion 
of holy joy to Barbarese. Eager to hear him 
once more, the affectionate disciple hastened to 
the hospital of the Annunciation, where he met 
his old master. " What are you about here?" 
asked the latter, smiling. " Come to hear the 
Holy Ghost," was Peter s quick rejoinder. 

This worthy man died on Saturday, Septem 
ber 19, 1767, the eve of the Seven Dolors. He 
left behind him a great reputation for sanctity ; 
in fact his body was deposited near the high 


altar of the Church, as though he were a saint. 
We are ignorant of the particulars of Nardone s 
death, though he, too, died in the odor of 
sanctity, and his remains were laid in the place 
of honor in the church of St. Matthew. 


The Chinese College. Alphonsus in his new abode. Privations 
and penances. Spiritual dryness and obscurity. Zeal for 
souls. Father Ripa s testimony. Extraordinary gifts of 
Alphonsus as a confessor. His penitent Mary. Incessant 
labors of Alphonsus. The epidemic of 1731. Illness of our 
saint. The earthquake at La Pouille. 

ALPHONSUS failed to find in his father s pal 
ace the solitude for which he sighed, and which 
he experienced in the monthly retreats he made 
with his companions, in the country house al 
ready mentioned. It happened about this time 
that the celebrated missionary, Don Matthew 
Ripa, returned from China accompanied by a 
Chinese doctor and four zealous young men, with 
the intention of founding at Naples a college for 
the Chinese. 

God blessed the enterprise, and on the I4th 
of April, 1729, they opened the house of the 
Chinese mission, to the great satisfaction of the 
founder, the Pope, Benedict XIII, and the King, 
Charles VI. Alphonsus, struck with the excel 
lence of this work, the rare merits of its founder, 
the great fervor which reigned in the house, 
and the poverty and privations which both 
Neapolitans and Chinese joyfully endured for 
love of God, resolved to join Father Ripa, who 
knew how to appreciate so invaluable a subject. 
He entered the college in June, 1729, to the 


great mortification of his father, who grieved to 
lose one whom he regarded less as a son than as 
an angel ; yet he did not oppose so laudable a 

No sooner did our saint find himself freed 
from the anxious watching of his parents, than 
he redoubled his former austerities. His garb 
was sackcloth, and chains of iron bound his 
loins. Several times a day he disciplined him 
self to blood. Scanty and miserable as was the 
food he took, he seasoned it with myrrh, aloes, 
and wormwood, and he generally ate in a 
kneeling posture. In his chamber he would not 
allow himself a chair, but stood while he 
studied, and even put little stones in his shoes. 
The Bishop of Cassano affirmed that his 
penances surpassed even those of St. Peter 

Besides these voluntary penances, he cheer 
fully bore the privations common to all, and 
these were neither few nor slight. The rule 
limited them to the use of vegetables and a little 
boiled meat, but they frequently had no meat, 
and were obliged to dine on a salad of mush 
rooms. Sometimes they could afford to buy 
only bones, from which they strove to extract a 
miserable soup. During Lent they scarcely 
ever had fish, and when they had, it was always 
of the poorest and cheapest description. They 
sowed radishes in a little plot of ground near 
the house, and for months they lived on these 
roots. Their evening repast usually consisted 
of the remnant of the dinner, boiled with a few 


coarse biscuits. And far from ever showing* 
the slightest repugnance to all this, Alphonsus 
rejoiced, and encouraged the others to suffer 
with pleasure, that they might become more 
holy and pleasing to God. 

Through all this he was sustained by prayer 
and by the example of the saints. By reading 
their lives, he studied their virtues and imbibed 
them. He burned with an ever-increasing 
desire to love God and give proofs of his love. 
Besides the community meditation, he daily 
spent at least an hour and a half before the 
Blessed Sacrament. The very rest nature 
claimed was given grudgingly, and not without 
many contrivances to render it as disagreeable 
as possible : he often lay on the bare ground or 
on a hard table. 

It might be surmised that these pious prac 
tices and austerities, undertaken and endured 
solely to please God, would procure for our 
saint a foretaste of heaven, which nothing 
worldly can either give or take away ; but this 
was not the case with Alphonsus. God per 
mitted him to share in the anguish of our dear 
Lord when he exclaimed : " My God ! my God ! 
why hast thou forsaken me?" 

Deprived of all the favors which make the 
cross light and easy, his heart enjoyed no con 
solation. He believed he had lost all devotion: 
" I go to Jesus," said he, " and I am repulsed by 
him. I have recourse to the Blessed Virgin, and 
she will not listen to me." During these trials, 
he acted entirely by faith which made him re- 


solve to please God in all things, even though 
there were no hell to punish his sins, or heaven 
to reward his virtue. 

While he remained in this college, he gave 
proofs of an extraordinary zeal for souls. 
Crowds besieged his confessional and pulpit. 
Every Friday he preached on the glories of 
Mary, and recited with his audience the chaplet 
of her sorrows. During the year he celebrated 
several novenas, and gave retreats which at 
tracted immense concourses. So devoted was 
he to his penitents that he scarcely took time 
to eat, but remained in the church as long as 
they required, often till late at night. 

Father Ripa in his Memoirs of this congrega 
tion, writes as follows of our young apostle : 

" We had with us the Count Alphonsus de 
Liguori, a priest eminent not only for his birth, 
but still more for his holy life, and wonderful 
qualifications as a missionary. He was in the 
house almost from the first, and though not 
aggregated to the Mission, he held himself in 
readiness to preach the gospel in China, as he 
more than once declared to his director. As 
sured of his zeal and talents, I gave him entire 
charge of our church in what regards the 
confessional and preaching, and he discharged 
these duties to the great advantage of souls." 

It is impossible to enumerate the obstinate 
sinners his sweetness attracted to the love of 
Jesus Christ. He possessed a peculiar gift in 
the confessional of inspiring sinners with contri 
tion. A famous courtesan whom he converted, 


became, under his guidance, a model of sanctity. 
This was but one instance in hundreds. At his 
feet sinners were touched with sorrow, and 
persons of ordinary virtue were inspired with 
the desire of giving themselves entirely to God. 
In short, to kneel to him and to feel compunc 
tion the latter seemed a natural consequence 
of the former. This enables us to understand 
that wonderful saying of a later period of his 
life, that he had never sent away one penitent 

The first sermon of a retreat he gave in the 
Chinese college, inspired fifteen young persons 
with a generous desire of consecrating their 
virginity to God. When he spoke of the beauty 
and dignity of virginity, the most indifferent 
among his hearers were forced to love and 
admire it ; and frequently, inflamed by his words 
of fire, the gay, the beautiful, the talented, re 
nounced the fading pleasures of earth, and 
devoted themselves under his direction to amass 
ing the imperishable riches of heaven. 

A young lady named Mary, whose heart was 
completely eaten up by the vanities of the 
world, was recommended by her anxious mother 
to the prayers of our saint, and soon began to 
reform a little; but her reformation was of a 
very temporary nature. Again the poor mother 
had recourse to the saint, who, at her earnest 
entreaty, spoke seriously to the girl, repre 
senting strongly the danger of her position. 
This happening in the church, the girl was 
touched to the heart, and going into a corner, 


began to bewail her sins most bitterly. Al- 
phonsus, seeing this, called her to his confes 
sional, and said, "Mary, will you sincerely give 
yourself to God?" "Yes," was the quick reply. 
" But with your whole heart, and without the 
slightest reserve ? " " With my whole heart, and 
without the slightest reserve," repeated the 
poor girl energetically. "Then," said he, "go 
instantly, cut off your hair, and become a Car 
melite." She obeyed, and died a saint. God 
sent her many severe trials to produce this 
result; for several years she was sensibly tor 
mented by the devil. She made a most edifying 
end, and, being invoked by many, wrought 
several miracles after her death. 

We find some particulars of this privileged 
soul in a letter addressed by Alphonsus to 
Mother Angela, superior of the monastery of 
the Holy Savior at Scala. " I beseech you pray, 
and procure prayers, for my poor penitent 
Mary; I really know not what to do for her; 
the more I speak to her, the more I increase her 
inquietude. Her temptations are fearful, yet 
they are but temptations. ... I tell you all 
this, that you may have compassion on this deso 
late soul. She consoles me, nevertheless, by 
her prompt obedience, even in the most difficult 
matters. Pray, and cause the community to 
pray, I entreat you, at least during the next 
three days, that our dear Lord would give me , 
light, and to her strength to obey, and to sup 
port her terrible trials." Many similar souls 
were under the direction of Alphonsus 


At this period of his life, his labors were 
incessant : preaching, giving retreats, hearing 
confessions, going on missions to neighboring 
towns, which fully occupied him. Yet the 
saint, who, later on, made a vow never to lose 
a moment of time, found leisure for all with 
out encroaching on his studies or devotions. 
" I never remember," said Father Fatigati, 
"to have seen Alphonsus waste a moment 
when he lived with us ; he was always preach 
ing, or hearing confessions, or at prayer or 

In 1729, Naples was ravaged by a frightful 
epidemic. This gave our saint occasion for still 
more heroic self-sacrifice ; he was ever foremost 
in anointing the sick. Besides, he opened a 
mission in the great Church of the Holy Ghost, 
and turned the common calamity to advantage, 
by using it as an argument to withdraw souls 
from the power of Satan. 

In consequence of his great fatigues, he was 
seized, the following year, with a pulmonary 
complaint, which brought him to death s door ; 
but again his beloved Mother wrought a miracle 
in his favor. 

In the spring of 1731, La Pouille and the 
adjoining provinces were desolated by an earth 
quake. The bishops, not to lose this opportu 
nity of calling their flocks to repentance, invited 
the missionaries to preach to them. Alphonsus, 
as usual, produced miraculous effects. The 
nuns of St. Clare, hearing several speak of him, 
entreated their superior to procure them the 


gratification of hearing him even once. Their 
request was granted, and they afterwards said 
that, in listening to him, it seemed as if a seraph 
were speaking: his words penetrated their in 
most hearts. 


Our Lady of Foggia. The apparition. Alphonsus preaches a 
novena. Success. Our Lady appears to him. Picture of the 
Vision. Alphonsus visits Mount Gargano. He is repri 
manded by Canon Torni. His sweetness and gentleness. 

FOGGIA suffered more than any other town from 
the earthquake, little more than a mass of ruins 
being- left of it; but God, who smote his people, 
would also comfort them, by giving them a 
miraculous proof of his love. In Foggia, was 
venerated a very old and miraculous picture of 
the Blessed Virgin, which was glazed and cur 
tained, its colors being almost obliterated by 
age. Terrified by the repeated shocks of the 
earthquake, the people came in crowds to place 
themselves under the protection of the Mother 
of Mercy. On the morning of the 22d of March, 
while the multitude were kneeling before this 
picture, the Holy Virgin showed herself to 
them under the appearance of a young woman, 
and this miraculous manifestation was repeated 
for several days, and seen by all who came to 
venerate the picture. 

This apparition made an extraordinary 
sensation throughout the kingdom ; and at the 
conclusion of the mission, Alphonsus and his 
companions went to visit the miraculous pict 
ure. Monsignor Falcoia, the bishop, insisted 


that he should give a novena in honor of the 
Blessed Virgin. He at first demurred, having 
no permission to prolong his stay, but finally 
yielded to circumstances, the bishop promising 
to assume the responsibility of his delay. So 
immense was the concourse, that the greater 
portion could not find room in the* church ; a 
pulpit therefore was erected near the door, 
beside which was exposed the miraculous pict 
ure. The effects were wonderful. Numerous 
as were the priests, they were not sufficient to 
hear the confessions of the crowds who, touched 
to the heart by the discourses of our saint, 
turned from their wickedness and sought to be 
reconciled with God. 

One day, after the people had left, the image 
having been replaced in the church, he ascended 
the altar over which it was placed, to examine it 
more closely. Scarcely had he placed himself 
in front of it, when he fell into an ecstasy which 
lasted nearly an hour. The Holy Virgin would 
fully satisfy his devotion by showing him her 
face, radiant with celestial beauty. When the 
vision disappeared, he came down, inebriated 
with joy, singing the Ave Marts Stella. He 
afterwards attested that he had seen the Virgin 
Mother, under the form of a girl of thirteen or 
fourteen, wearing a white veil* Next day he 
described to a painter what he had seen, and 
the picture executed on that occasion is still 
preserved in the house of Ciorani. Throughout 
the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, 
the feast of our Lady of Foggia is celebrated on 


the anniversary, March 22d ; the regular and 
secular clergy of Foggia celebrate the same 
feast on the same day. 

From Foggia, Alphonsus proceeded home by 
Mount Gargano, where he desired to render 
homage to the Archangel Michael. At Man- 
fredonia, the archbishop and his chapter came 
to meet him, accompanied by the most distin 
guished people in the town. They besought 
him to preach, but he declined, on the plea 
that he had no leave from his superiors. Next 
morning he said mass at the altar of the Arch 
angel, with a devotion that attracted the gaze 

of all. 

On returning to Naples, about the middle of 
May, he found that his fears of being blamed 
for delaying to preach the novena, were to be 
realized. The Canon Julius Torni, either 
because he disapproved of what he had done, 
or wished to exercise his humility for his 
spiritual profit, reprimanded him severely in 
presence of the whole Congregation. Alphon 
sus received the rebukes of his superior with 
his usual gentleness and sweetness. Far from 
excusing himself, he rejoiced to see himself 
mortified and humbled before so respectable 
an assembly. 


Alphonsus retires to Amalfi. Proposal of the Vicar of Scala. 
Alphonsus and his companions evangelize shepherds and goat 
herds. Sermon. 

WORN out by his labors and austerities, the 
friends of our saint began to feel serious ap 
prehensions regarding his health, and it was 
determined that he should repair to the country 
to regain his strength. Amalfi was the place 
selected. Here there was a hermitage on a hill 
opposite the sea. Several of his co-laborers 
accompanied him. 

On their arrival, after a rough voyage, they 
went to pay their respects to the Archbishop, 
Monsignor Scorza. Meeting the vicar-general, 
ne strongly urged them to go to a more con 
venient hermitage at Scala, where they could 
benefit the poor goatherds of the vicinity, who 
were destitute of spiritual aid. " Only go," he 
urged, " I will give you full powers." 

The proposal was joyfully acceded to, and 
they established themselves at Saint Mary s of 
the Mount, as the hermitage was called. The 
Blessed Sacrament was placed in their oratory, 
and while our saint was recovering his bodily 
health, his soul gained new strength in the 
presence of his beloved Savior. 

They began to catechise the shepherds and 
goatherds of the Mount, and the inhabitants of 


the adjacent country, and to hear their confes 
sions. It was now that Alphonsus learned the 
extreme spiritual destitution of the scattered 
population of this district, many of whom had to 
be instructed in the rudiments of faith before they 
could make their confession. He met with many 
who were entirely ignorant of the essential 
truths of religion, deprived of the sacraments 
and the word of God. These poor people he 
instructed with his wonted gentleness, and their 
progress was to him a source of indescribable 

The people of Scala, hearing that the cele 
brated missionary was in their environs, were 
very desirous of hearing him preach, and the 
bishop besought him to gratify their pious 
curiosity. He preached one sermon to them, 
which had the full effect of a regular mission. 
He spoke so powerfully of the love of Jesus in 
the Blessed Sacrament, and the pressing motives 
which oblige us to return him love for love, 
that the entire congregation wept and sobbed, 
their groans resounding through the whole 

The superioress of the nuns of the Holy 
Savior entreated him to preach in their church, 
which he did with his usual unction ; and the 
bishop was so delighted at the success of his 
labors, that he engaged him to preach a novena 
in the cathedral, preparatory to the feast of 
the Holy Redeemer, celebrated in September. 

Having continued his labors among the shep 
herds till the appointed time, he returned to 


Scala, accompanied by his inseparable com 
panion, Father John Mazzini. During the 
novena, he conducted a retreat for the nuns of 
the Holy Savior. There was among them a 
religious of great sanctity, eminent for many 
supernatural gifts. Being in an ecstasy on the 
3d of October, she saw a new Congregation of 
priests evangelizing thousands of the hitherto 
neglected inhabitants of remote villages and 
hamlets, and at the head of it she saw Alphon- 
sus, and heard a voice which said, "It is this 
soul I have chosen to be the instrument of my 
glory in this great work." 

In a conversation subsequently held with him, 
she made known what she had seen in spirit, and 
what God required of him. Although her sen 
timents perfectly coincided with his own, and 
although he had frequently besought our dear 
Lord, even with tears, to raise up an apostle for 
the most abandoned, and gather their precious 
souls into his fold, he now reproved the nun 
and treated her as a visionary. Yet struck by 
the conformity between her vision and his own 
reflections, he at first regarded it as coming 
from God. The more he repulsed the good 
religious, the more firmly did she maintain that 
God had chosen him for a sublime mission. 

He returned to Mazzini, terribly agitated, and 
on his hesitating to tell the cause, his friend said : 
" I know you have been disputing with one of 
the nuns, for I overheard you speaking rather 
loudly." At length, Alphonsus essayed to tell 
him what the nun had said, and this Mazzini 


treated very seriously. The sanctity of the nun 
was undoubted : " Besides," argued he, " an 
institution of this nature is greatly needed in 
the country, and who knows what designs our 
dear Lord may have upon you ? " 

" I highly approve of such an institution," 
returned Alphonsus, " and I foresee its glorious 
fruits ; but what can I do alone? Where are my 
companions ? " " Here I am for one," answered 
Mazzini, " and I am sure other priests will not 
be wanting to consecrate themselves to an en 
terprise so fraught with the interests of God s 

While he was weighing this matter in his 
mind, Mgr. Falcoia, bishop of Castellamare, 
arrived at Scala. He was a man of well-tried 
sanctity, skilled in spirituality, who had been 
intimately acquainted with Alphonsus in the 
Chinese College. Mazzini induced his friend to 
open his mind to this estimable prelate, and to 
the Bishop of Scala, who was nowise his inferior 
in virtue. After several days spent in closely 
examining the subject, these prelates agreed 
that the inspiration came from God, and the 
vision of Sister Celestina only strengthened 
their belief, she being a person of extraordinary 
sanctity. Mgr. Falcoia, in particular, admired 
in this incident a special mark of God s provi 
dence ; for, ever since his elevation to the epi 
scopal dignity, he had desired the establishment 
of a work of this nature, having had proof of the 
extreme spiritual destitution of remote hamlets 
and villages. On learning that Alphonsus felt 


moved to undertake it, his heart was filled with 
consolation, and he urged our saint to hasten 
the execution of the project. But Alphonsus 
still demurred, and finally consented to refer 
the decision to his own director, Rev. Thomas 


Conflicting sentiments. Opinions of Pagano. Cutica and Manulio 
agree with "him. Opposition. Gizzio and Torni. Others 
deride our Saint. The nun of Scala, Sister Celestina. A 
miracle. Father Fiorillo. His letter to Alphonsus. Embar 
rassment of our saint. He shows the letter. Letter of Mgr. 

THE interior light which illumined the soul of 
Alphonsus, strengthened by the advice of holy 
and experienced individuals, should have been 
for him a powerful motive of confidence ; but 
when he considered his own weakness and inca 
pacity, he was filled with indescribable anguish. 
He feared to oppose the divine will, and he 
feared, on the other hand, to engage in a rash 

Father Pagano, after a careful consideration 
of some days duration, declared that the institu 
tion in contemplation must tend to the glory of 
God and the salvation of souls ; but through a 
holy diffidence in himself, he forebore to give 
a final decision, and referred his penitent to 
Father Vincent Cutica, and Father Manulio, 
a Jesuit. Their opinions coincided with that of 
Pagano, and they urged Alphonsus to begin the 
good work at once. Several other religious, 
equally estimable, were of the same mind, so 
that he could no longer hesitate. 

He now took courage, for he felt that he 
knew for certain God s will in his regard. He 


therefore gave himself unreservedly to God, sac 
rificing his love for his native city, and offering 
to spend his life in villages and remote districts 
among the poorest and most neglected class. 

As soon as our saint s determination became 
known, all Naples exclaimed against him ; some 
hinted that his brain was affected, others treated 
him as a madman ; not a few considered him a 
visionary, and a respectable quota of the more 
rational adversaries judged that the promising 
young priest had been spoiled by too much 
praise. His brethren of the Chinese College 
were his most uncompromising opponents. 
Father Ripa used his most strenuous endeavors 
to persuade him that his designs were imprac 
ticable. This good priest had dearly loved our 
saint, and had from their first acquaintance re 
garded him as the firmest pillar of the college. 
Now he chose to believe him the victim of a 
lamentable delusion, and publicly and privately 
reproached him for his extravagance. 

Having heard of the vision of the nun, the 
Fathers of the Propaganda imagined it to be the 
sole basis of his plans, and were shocked that a 
man of his ability and good sense should allow 
himself to be led astray by such reveries. What 
afflicted him most was, that these opinions were 
shared by his uncle, Matthew Gizzio, Rector of 
the Seminary, and his friend and professor, 
Julius Torni. When assailed by such respec 
table adversaries, he meekly replied that he 
would do nothing without the consent of his 


" It is not God who directs you," said Gizzio, 
bluntly ; " you are guided by the reveries of a 
young- nun, and you will not see that you are 
deluded." " I do not regulate my conduct by 
visions," returned our saint, gently, " but by 
the Gospel." 

One day, Gizzio jeeringly asked if he ever ex 
pected to realize that brilliant scheme of his. 
" He who trusts in God can do all, and should 
hope all," returned Alphonsus. 

Finally his uncle treated him as a fool, saying 
that his brain had been turned by self-conceit. 
On one occasion, as he entered the sacristy of 
the cathedral, several persons of rank began to 
insult him : " Keep to your word now," said 
they derisively ; " be quick and show us these 
new institutions which you have promised the 
Church." Alphonsus humbled himself interi 
orly, but would not utter a word in his own 

Gizzio had for his director Father Louis Fio- 
rillo. " Why," said he one day to his nephew, 
" why do you not guide yourself by the counsels 
of Fiorillo ? " " I am directed by Father Pa- 
gano," answered Alphonsus. But Father Pagano 
himself referred his saintly penitent to Fiorillo ; 
and the moment Fiorillo saw him, he said : 
" God is not yet satisfied with you ; He wishes 
you to be entirely his, and expects great things 
from you." 

At these words Alphonsus seemed to breathe 
more freely, and felt his heart penetrated with 
new life. Thus encouraged, Alphonsus opened 


his whole soul to the good Dominican, and it 
was agreed that he should continue to consult 
him. He began to perform the most severe 
penances, that the Father of Light would en 
lighten his servant Fiorillo, upon whose decision 
the affair seemed to depend. He recommended 
himself to the prayer of many holy persons, but 
above all to the nun of Scala. All the other nuns 
of her monastery joined her in prayers, fasts, 
and mortifications, to beseech God to enlighten 
our saint s directors. An occurrence which 
must be considered miraculous, confirmed the 
opinions of those who believed Alphonsus to be 
called to establish a new Congregation. One 
day, when the nuns were speaking for and 
against the project, Sister Celestina exclaimed 
in ecstatic transport : " It is the work of God, 
and you will see it accomplished ! " " Yes," 
returned one of the most incredulous, "I will 
believe it when Sister Magdalen is cured." 
Hardly were the words uttered when this poor 
Sister, who had been deranged for many years, 
perfectly recovered her senses. 

When Alphonsus made known to Father Fio 
rillo the lights he had received from God at 
Scala, ancl the lights he still continued to re 
ceive, the man of God replied : " In a similar 
conjuncture, St. Louis Bertrand asked six 
months from St. Teresa to reflect before giving 
an answer : I ask the same of you." " Not six 
months only," said Alphonsus, " take a whole 

Some days after, however, they met again, 


and the venerable man, tenderly embracing him, 
said : " Be of good courage, for this work cer 
tainly coines from God. Throw yourself into 
his arms as a stone falls into a valley. You will 
encounter contradictions, but be of good cheer; 
have confidence, God will help you." 

But having other good works on hand, and 
fearing to offend the clergy who might cease to 
aid them, he begged Alphonsus to conceal his 
approbation and not to visit him again. Fully 
satisfied that he was but fulfilling the divine will, 
the saint now began in earnest to look out for 
companions, Fathers Cutica and Manulio also 
authorizing him. He wrote to Fiorillo, asking 
him to point out some suitable individuals. 

The reply was as follows : 

" Do not suppose I forget you in a matter so 
intimately connected with the divine honor. I 
have your interest more at heart than ever. Be 
tranquil, and place all your confidence in God. 
He will aid you in a work so dear to his Heart. 
At this moment 1 have no subjects to offer you, 
but should I meet with any, I shall be happy to 
present them. Would that I were young my 
self! I would gladly follow you, were it only to 
carry your baggage. Fear not because your 
disciples are few ; they will be strengthened to 
do the work of many. A small number of per 
fect men can do more than an army of the ordi 
nary stamp. I bless you in the name of Jesus 
and Mary, and embrace you tenderly and with 
humble respect, in the charity of our Lord/ 


Meanwhile, nothing- was talked of in Naples 
but the new Congregation and its presumptuous 
founder. The missionaries of the Propaganda 
were the first to prepossess the public mind 
against Alphonsus. They publicly regretted 
that he had ever been of their number, and bit 
terly resented the slur they imagined he cast 
upon them. " Do you not yet perceive that 
you are a visionary?" said Gizzio to him one 
day, on which he had accidentally met him in 
the church; "all are against you; neither Pa- 
gano nor Fiorillo is with you, and you obstin 
ately persist in your own notions, submitting 
only to the reveries of a nun! Fool that you 
are ! can you not see that you act the part of an 

" Say what you please, Uncle," said the foun 
der with his accustomed gentleness ; " I assure 
you, nevertheless, that I am not acting in conse 
quence of any one s reveries, but am ruled by 
the word of God, and guided by those to whom 
I ought to submit." 

Naturally, his embarrassment was great at 
this period : he was bound not to betray Fio 
rillo, who was then absent; and, on the other 
side, the scandal and astonishment of the people 
were on the increase. Pagano advised him to 
keep the secret no longer ; the bishops of Cas- 
sano and Ischia agreed with Pagano ; and, after 
several consultations with them and others, he 
determined to obey his director. 

Hardly had he entered his uncle s abode, when 
that dignitary and Canon Torni attacked him 


with more than ordinary rancor. "You are 
deceived/ said he calmly; " my conduct is the 
result of the counsels of Father Fiorillo." He 
then placed a copy of Fiorillo s letter in his 
uncle s hand. " But," said the cautious Torni, 
" I would see the original." Alphonsus pre 
sented it : " Now," said he, " I want no other 
testimony ; this is sufficient for the honor of my 

After this, Alphonsus expected some respite; 
but his brethren of the Propaganda refused to 
be reconciled with him, and threatened to expel 
him ignominiously from their congregation. But 
Cardinal Pignatelli, although he had been preju 
diced against the founder, warned Torni to be 
ware how he took any steps against Alphonsus 
de Liguori. 

Father Ripa, far from withdrawing his op 
position on learning that Alphonsus was acting 
under the advice of Father Fiorillo, became 
more violent than ever, accusing the saint and 
his director of being duped by a nun s reveries. 
He believed himself justified in opposing 
schemes which would withdraw Alphonsus 
from Naples, and deprive the Chinese College 
of some of its most zealous subjects ; for Jan- 
uarius Sarnelli, son of the Baron of Ciorarii, 
and Vincent Mandarini had signified their 
desire of following him. He called the plan a 
suggestion of the devil. He quarrelled with 
Pagano and Fiorillo, and wrote a very bitter 
letter to Mgr. Falcoia, whom he suspected of 
beine in some manner the inventor of the vision 


connected with the name of the pious nun of 
Scala. The reply is too admirable to be omit 
ted here : 

" Your esteemed letter has just been received, 
and, despite the bitterness it displays, it is still 
dear to me as coming from you. I reply imme 
diately, because I would not have your annoy 
ance continue a moment if I can help it. You 
know it does not belong to a spiritual father to 
give his penitents any vocation which may hap 
pen to please himself. This is the province 
of Almighty God, who has prepared niches in 
Paradise for the statues He fashions here below. 
On earth He establishes different studios, and is 
daily opening new ones, where these rational 
statues are to be moulded to perfection accord 
ing to his will, ever most holy, that they may 
be prepared for their position in eternal glory. 
But that all may not be crowded together, God 
has destined one to be sculptured in one studio, 
and another in another. It is not the province 
of a spiritual father to do any thing "but approve 
or disapprove. 

" When a soul is faithful to God and his holy 
words, He that heareth you heareth me/ 
we may believe she cannot wander. You may 
argue that a spiritual father can be deceived ; 
but I would reply that God, who is always 
faithful, will not fail to communicate his will to 
those whom He has appointed to enlighten 
others. Were it otherwise, what security could 
we have in deciding what was God s will ? 


" Now, inasmuch as Alphonsus has followed 
this rule, he cannot go astray. I see from your 
letter that you condemn me as one who would 
overturn your Congregation, and ruin a valuable 
work which owes all to your labors. But fear 
not. Is the arm of God shortened? is he not 
able to sustain your Congregation and many 
others at the same time ? Let God perform his 
own work, for a work that comes from him may 
aid, but cannot destroy, another equally divine. 
But this enterprise, you say, will dissipate itself. 
If so, you will lose nothing ; but, according to 
my view, the project comes from God, who will 
not permit it to perish if he who is charged 
therewith continues faithful. To oppose it, there 
fore, is to oppose the divine will. 

" But/ you persist, we shall lose our sub 
jects. I wish, dear Father, we all had more 
confidence in God and less in man. When the 
Congregation of the Pious Workers was estab 
lished, four of its most useful members left and 
founded four different Congregations. Yet the 
venerable Fathers Carafa and Colellis were not 
disturbed by their secession, nor was their Con 
gregation ruined ; on the contrary, new arrivals 
filled up the vacant places. Be persuaded that 
the work which Don Alphonsus is about to 
undertake has not been suggested by the devil; 
on the contrary, the devil opposes it, as he has 
always opposed every good work calculated to 
injure his empire on earth." 

Despite this reasoning, strong and super- 


natural, Father Ripa continued to blame our 
saint ; and, in his memoirs of his Congregation, 
bitterly inveighs against Alphonsus di Liguori, 
and all who approved or forwarded his projects, 
though he never ceased to regard him as a dear 


Fathers Pagano and Fiorillo decline the direction of Alphonsus. 
Alphonsus places himself under the guidance of Mgr. 
Falcoia. Canon Torni endeavors to shake the resolution of 
Alphonsus. Retreat for the Clergy. Missions. Letter. 
First disciples of Alphonsus. 

WHEN Fathers Fiorillo and Pagano saw that the 
tempest, instead of abating, rather increased, 
they began to fear for the success of their own 
immediate affairs, if they continued to bear the 
blame of directing Alphonsus. They therefore 
strongly urged him -to place himself under the 
guidance of Mgr. Falcoia, a prelate of extraordi 
nary sanctity, and particular light in what con 
cerns the religious state, and venerated by all 

Alphonsus was unwilling to leave Father 
Pagano who had been his director from child 
hood, but he determined to seek help from his 
Blessed Mother ; and for this end commenced a 
novena, the feast of the Assumption being at 
hand. The Divine Mother listened to her 
favored child, and filled his soul with light as 
to his future course. He then placed himself in 
the hands of the holy old prelate, and never was 
child more obedient to a parent. 

The Canon Torni, though convinced of the 
wisdom of those who directed Alphonsus, and 


aware of the approbation bestowed on his pro 
jects by persons of the most respectable charac 
ter and position, could not bear to think that 
his services would be lost to Naples. He there 
fore began an indirect opposition, in his capacity 
of Superior of the Propagandists. He charged 
him with several important matters, hoping that, 
when he saw the good he was effecting in the 
capital, he would relinquish the idea of going 

In October, he commanded him, in the name 
of the cardinal, to give a retreat to the clergy 
of Naples. He obeyed, despite the repugnance 
he felt to appear before priests, many of whom 
had interpreted his intentions in a manner con 
trary to charity ; but the will of his superior 
was always for him as the will of God. The 
divine blessing rested abundantly upon this 
retreat. Most of his auditors were touched to 
the heart, despite their prejudices against him. 
The cardinal himself was so moved that he 
exclaimed : " One may easily see that he is a 
vessel of election, for the Holy Ghost speaks by 
his mouth." 

Several of the clergy, who had heretofore 
been cold and indifferent, became zealous and 
fervent pastors. No sooner was the retreat 
finished, than he was ordered to give missions 
in three other churches. From all parts of the 
city multitudes crowded to hear him, and his 
confessional was besieged from morning till 
night. But, notwithstanding this abundant har 
vest, our saint longed for the moment when 



he could set out for Scala, to establish there 
the cradle of his new Congregation. 

Mgr. Falcoia, either because the opposition 
was rather on the increase than on the wane, 
or because he wished to test still more the 
constancy of our saint, delayed to give his 
parting benediction. " Father," wrote Alphon 
sus, "I beseech you hasten to call me hence; 
I am dying with anxiety to set out ; release me 
from the obedience to remain at Naples. The 
devil is doing all he can to delay us, but let us 
hasten to the work, and obstacles will vanish ; 
all will succeed wonderfully. I am on the eve 
of the last day of the retreat I was directed to 
give, and I must speak to-day of my Mother in 
heaven, the glorious Virgin. Pray for me 
always, always, and for the glory of our dear 
Lord begin the work at once." 

The more dearly Fathers Ripa and Gizzio 
loved the saint, the more they imagined them 
selves obliged to counteract his designs. Heaven 
sometimes permits similar delusions even among 
the most fervent. Later, however, when the 
blessings of heaven descended on the institute, 
now only in contemplation, his most bitter oppo 
nents applauded the work, and gained the rising 
institute many sincere friends and not a few 

Even now several distinguished ecclesiastics 
offered themselves to follow our saint ; but when 
the moment came for executing their good re 
solutions, the majority withdrew under different 


His first companion was Vincent Mandarini, a 
nobleman of Calabria. Like Alphonsus, he was 
a pensioner in the Chinese College, an excellent 
theologian, and a man of singular learning and 
virtue. He was followed by his bosom friend, 
Sylvester Tosquez, who, though still a secular, 
was well versed in theology and jurisprudence, 
and had an ardent zeal for his perfection ; by 
Don Januarius Sarnelli, also of the Chinese 
College, son of the baron of Ciorani, a priest of 
eminent sanctity ; by Don Peter Romana of 
Scala, Dr. Sportelli of Aquaviva, Don Jerome 
Manfredi, Don John Baptist Donato, Don Joseph 
Banza ; and by two others whose names have 
not reached us. These formed the catalogue of 
the first disciples of Alphonsus. 

These, as became corner-stones of a new 
edifice, were all animated with lively zeal for 
the glory of God, and devotion to the cause they 
had espoused. But our saint placed all his 
confidence in God and in the protection of our 
Lady. A gentleman named Vitus Curzius, whose 
vocation was evidently miraculous, was the first 
lay-brother. He had been secretary of the 
Marquis of Vasto, and was very intimate with 
SportelH, of whose vocation, however, he knew 
nothing. One day he mentioned to him a dream 
he had the preceding night. " I thought," said 
he, " that I stood at the foot of a high and steep 
mountain which many priests were trying to as 
cend. I wished to follow them, but at the first 
step was thrown backwards. Unwilling to give 
up, I tried to ascend several times ; but to my 


great annoyance, I aways slid back, till a priest, 
moved with compassion, reached out his hand 
and helped me." Towards noon, as they walked 
to the Chinese College, they met Alphonsus. 
Curzius, who had never seen him before, struck 
with astonishment, exclaimed : " There is the 
priest who gave me his hand last night ! " Spor- 
telli now understood the dream, and mentioned 
the design of the founder, whereupon Curzius 
instantly begged to be admitted among the 
disciples of the saint, but in quality of lay 
brother. His request was granted. 


The germs of the new Congregation. The missionaries in Scala. 
Touching incidents. Penitential life of the missionaries. 
Alphonsus signalizes himself even among saintly men. Pious 
customs he introduces. Consoling Letter of Canon Torni. 
New Persecutions. The Archbishop defends the saint. The 
flame of resentment is arrested but not extinguished. Grati 
tude of Alphonsus towards his defenders. 

THE year 1732 was destined by God to give 
birth to the Congregation of Our Most Holy 
Redeemer. Clement XII then occupied the 
Chair of Peter, and Charles VI the throne of 
Naples. After receiving the benediction of 
Fathers Pagano and Fiorillo, Alphonsus, without 
acquainting either friends or relations, hired a 
wretched donkey and set out for Scala, No 
vember 8. Mgr. Santoro, who impatiently ex 
pected him, received him as an angel from 
heaven, and blessed God that he had lived to 
see so happy a day. The dwelling prepared for 
the missionaries, pleased them in every respect. 
It was a hospice belonging to a convent, almost 
destitute of furniture, poor and inconvenient. 
The day after their arrival they assembled in 
the cathedral, and after prolonged meditations, 
chanted the mass of the Holy Ghost, in thanks 
giving for the establishment of the Congregation, 
and to beg God s blessing upon the work. 


They styled it " Of the Holy Savior," plac 
ing it under the protection of the chief of all 
missionaries. The founder hoped to form a 
company of priests animated with great zeal, 
who would willingly embrace a kind of apo 
stolic life, poor and humble, despising all earthly 

Alphonsus, on leaving Naples, had entirely 
broken with the world. The August previous, 
he had returned home to adjust his business. 
It was then that Count Joseph made a last 
appeal to this cherished son. One day when 
Alphonsus had lain down to take a little repose, 
the wretched father entered the room, and 
throwing himself on the bed beside him, ex 
claimed in piteous accents : " My son, my son ! 
why will you abandon me? I do not deserve 
that you should cause me such misery ! " For 
three hours this scene lasted, the father embrac 
ing him and passionately repeating : " My son, 
my son, do not abandon me ! " Alphonsus after 
wards spoke of this trial as the most terrible 
he had ever endured. 

The newly established missionaries applied 
themselves seriously to prayer and penance, 
their hearts overflowing with gratitude and love. 
Even their repasts they signalized by penitential 
exercises. Some kissed the ground; others 
knelt and remained for some time with their 
arms extended in the form of a cross. They ate 
kneeling or in some other penitential posture, 
and some hung heavy stones about their necks. 
Their scanty food they seasoned with bitter 


herbs, so that the very beggars refused to 
partake of what was left. 

The end which Alphonsus proposed to him 
self was, to unite in one body zealous priests who 
had but the glory of God and the salvation of 
souls in view. They were to lead an apostolic 
life, conforming themselves to Jesus Christ in 
poverty, humility, and self-abnegation. Prayer 
and penance were conspicuous in Alphonsus and 
his disciples; they were so inflamed with divine 
love, that they could scarcely think but of God. 
To their bodies they refused every comfort. 

Alphonsus signalized himself in this holy 
assembly. He was ever to be found with God in 
prayer, or with God in works undertaken for 
his glory. Never was he seen to waste a mo 
ment of time. After a lengthened preparation, 
he daily celebrated the holy sacrifice of the 
Mass ; after which he made a most devout 
thanksgiving. No sooner did business leave 
him free, than he prostrated himself before the 
Blessed Sacrament, to satiate his love in that 
source of love. 

Besides laboring most zealously for his own 
perfection, he endeavored to convert or sanctify 
the people of Scala. He introduced the custom 
of giving a meditation every morning in the 
cathedral, and of making visits to the Blessed 
Sacrament and the Blessed Mother every even 
ing. Every Thursday he gave a sermon and 
exposition of the Most Holy Sacrament. On 
Sundays and Feasts he instructed and catechised 
the people. He established two confraternities, 


one for noblemen, the other for artisans, and 
similar associations for the other sex; and to 
each of these he gave a particular instruction 
every Sunday. In a word, Scala was soon 
thoroughly reformed, to the great satisfaction of 
its zealous bishop. Ably seconded by his com 
panions, Alphonsus gave missions in various 
town and villages adjacent ; so that the renown 
of the new Congregation began to spread every 
where, and bishops were constantly beseech 
ing the founder to evangelize their flocks, and 
even to accept of establishments in their re 
spective dioceses. In a letter, dated December 
29, 1732, addressed to Mgr. Falcoia, we find the 
following : 

" The Bishop of Caiazzo expects us, and counts 
the moments till our arrival. It is the same with 
the Bishops of Cassano and Salerno ; but for this, 
experienced subjects are necessary, and it takes 
time to form them. What is of the utmost im 
portance is, to have men who are all animated 
by the same spirit." 

While matters were progressing so favorably 
at Scala, the fathers of the Propaganda in Naples 
became more and more embittered against their 
late companion. Their conduct so deeply grieved 
our saint that he wrote to their Superior, Canon 
Torni, who comforted him by the subjoined 
reply :-_ 

" I could not restrain my tears on reading the 
letter with which you honored me, and in which 


you make known to me the afflictions that assail 
you on all sides. Wherefore I have not ceased to 
pray to our Lord that he might deign to bestow 
on you the fortitude you so greatly need to bear 
the trials to which his all-wise Providence has 
willed to subject you, and to communicate to 
you with ever-increasing abundance light to see 
his holy will. 

" Do not imagine that I entertain for you 
sentiments of aversion : such would be impious 
in my eyes. I have always loved you with the 
tenderest affection, and now more dearly than 
ever. You may then write to me whenever you 
think proper ; your letters will always be most 

" Our Congregation has not ceased to regard 
you as one of its most cherished members. We 
shall take no step in your regard but by order 
of his Eminence ; and you may be sure that 
while I remain Superior, so far as depends on 
me, nothing will be done against you." 

Notwithstanding the friendly sentiments of 
Torni, he was finally forced to yield to the im 
portunity of his subjects, and permit them to 
affix to the door of their house the following 
notice : " According to the order of the Superior, 
on the 23d of February there will be a general 
investigation touching the following questions : 
Whether the brother Don Alphonsus Liguori 
should be expelled from the Congregation? 
And whether he ought to be deprived of his 
chaplaincy ? " 


Canon Torni, who had submitted so reluc 
tantly to the dictation of his unworthy dis 
ciples, was determined to frustrate their iniqui 
tous designs. Therefore he secretly informed 
the cardinal of their proceedings, and spoke 
strongly of the injustice contemplated against 
Alphonsus. " One may see," said he, with a 
burst of generous indignation, "that it is nothing- 
short of madness. Not content with blasting his 
reputation, they would deprive him of the means 
of subsistence." 

The cardinal was exceedingly annoyed, but 
he would not hinder the convocation : " Let 
them deliberate," said he, " but fear nothing." 
They did deliberate, and with incredible rancor. 
They unanimously decided to expel him, and 
deprive him of his benefice ; and to prevent inter 
ference in his favor, all was conducted with the 
utmost secrecy. One of the members, probably 
his uncle Canon Gizzio, delivered himself as 
follows : " I have never given a vote of expul 
sion in this Congregation, but to-day I do it 
with pleasure." Don Buonacquisto, who related 
the above, added that the scene reminded him 
forcibly of the last judgment. 

Gizzio and the other principal members went 
to implore the cardinal to ratify what had been 
done. But his Eminence showed intense dis 
pleasure : " Why," asked he, " do you proceed 
to such extremities ? Either God will bless the 
enterprise of Don Alphonsus, and it will prove 
glorious to you ; or He will overthrow it, and 
nothing worse can be said than that a good work 


was attempted, but did not succeed. In any case, 
I see no dishonor in it." He added in a tone of 
authority : " I am Superior of your Congrega 
tion ; I desire that Don Alphonsus de Liguori 
be reinstated, and that he continue to enjoy his 
chaplainship ; and I forbid you to take any steps 
against him, unless authorized by me to do so." 

This generous conduct arrested the flame, 
but did not extinguish it. The deputies were 
silenced indeed, but they retired more deter 
mined than ever, never to recognize Alphonsus 
as a member of their Congregation. 

Alphonsus wrote to the cardinal and to the 
canon in terms expressive of the most lively 
gratitude ; but it is remarkable that in these 
letters not a word escapes him with reference to 
the cruel treatment he had received from his 
brethren ; neither does he justify himself or 
declare his innocence, but suffers all with 
admirable sweetness and resignation. 


The severest trial yet. Odd Proposals. Firmness of the saint.- - 
Withdrawal of Mandarini. Letter. Modest proposal of 
Mandarini. Secession. Grief of St. Alphonsus. Freezing 
reception accorded by Bishop Falcoia. Temptations. Terrific 
struggle. The pulpits resound with anathemas. Deserted 
by all. In Naples. At Scala again. 

THE storm was subsiding at Naples, and Al 
phonsus was living in profound tranquillity at 
Scala, when God, to try His servant more 
severely than ever, permitted discord to appear 
in the new-born Congregation. Alphonsus 
wished that his brethren should be occupied 
only in promoting the sanctification of clergy 
and laity, giving spiritual exercises in convents, 
and instructing destitute souls by means of 
missions. Mandarini would add colleges to the 
plan ; and each giving his individual opinion 
Tosquez maintained that, as the end of the Insti 
tution was to imitate Jesus Christ, it would be 
necessary to dress in a dark-red cassock and a 
mantle of celestial blue, these being the colors 
our Savior was said to have worn ! 

Some disliked the recitation of the office in 
common ; others objected to sleeping on straw ; 
a few saw no necessity for rigorous poverty ; and 
the perfect community life to which the founder 
persistently held, was not pleasing to all. Tos- 


quez, who seems to have had a wonderful liking 
for extremes, insisted that the brethren should em 
brace the reform of the most austere mendicant 
order, having previously sold their estates and 
laid the price thereof at the feet of the Superior. 

Alphonsus could not forbear smiling at the 
proposal of Doctor Tosquez : " Would it not 
be absurd," said he, "for simple priests to 
appear in masquerade, by adopting a blue and 
red costume?" And with regard to the other 
proposal, he pleasantly added that he feared 
the Ananiases would be so numerous, that it 
would be impossible to bury all who would 
come forward with a lie in their mouth. 

He approved of establishing a choir, as being 
a good means of reciting the office well ; and 
insisted on the vow of poverty, without which 
it would be impossible to observe community 
life. " If," said he, " the words mine and thine 
are heard among the brethren, great inconven 
iences will result; they will go on missions 
not for God and souls, but for mere temporal 

These conflicting sentiments were well calcu 
lated to disturb his serenity ; he spoke, he 
supplicated, he had recourse to prayer; he 
consulted Mgr. Falcoia, Father Pagano, and 
Canon Torni, who all looked upon it as a strata 
gem of the devil. Finally, Mandarini, refusing 
to yield to the founder, withdrew, accompanied 
by all the disciples of his master, except 

Previous to this sad separation, Mandarini s 


conduct and influence had been but too instru 
mental in causing coldness and misunderstand 
ing to creep into the little community. Nor 
was Alphonsus slow to perceive this : " O my 
father ! " wrote he to Mgr. Falcoia, in the bitter 
ness of his soul, " you know not how painful 
it is for me to associate with Don Vincent 
Mandarini. It is only the love of Christ that 
has enabled me to keep up friendly relations 
Vith him. Thank God, who gives me grace to 
endure these storms. See what I have deserved 
for obeying God, renouncing my family, and 
making light of the reproaches of friends and 
relations. Still you encourage me to put my 
confidence in God, even though all my com 
panions should desert me. Ah, my father, do 
not abandon me ! Command and I will obey. 
Have pity on me, your unworthy son." 

The withdrawal of Mandarini and his com 
panions took place in March, 1733, just four 
months after the auspicious opening at Scala. 
Yet almost alone as Alphonsus was, he continued 
to labor for souls with extraordinary zeal and 
success. Mandarini coveted his zeal and abili 
ties for his own projects: " If your Reverence 
would only come to us," he wrote from Naples, 
" we all most earnestly desire a reunion ; but if, 
as I will not believe, you persist in remaining, it 
will be for us the greatest misfortune." 

With this modest request of his late novice, 
Alphonsus, as will be readily surmised, declined 
complying. " With God, one is a majority," 
says a representative man of our day ; but St. 


Teresa had already said as much and in stronger 
terms. No doubt St. Alphonsus felt this when 
he was forsaken by the men of learning and 
prestige, who had renounced the world and 
undertaken a glorious enterprise at his bidding. 
Yet Mandarini seems to have been sincerely 
attached to him : " Command me," he wrote, " if 
I can ever be of the smallest service to you ; for, 
though absent in body, I am with you in spirit." 

The paths of these men diverged from the first 
separation. Mandarini founded a Congregation 
which embodied all his plans ; and though, later 
on, he was willing to adopt the views of St. 
Alphonsus and affiliate his foundation to the 
order of the Most Holy Redeemer, our saint 
wisely declined his proposals. 

This separation was a terrible trial to the 
tender heart of the founder. Gloomy thoughts 
filled his troubled mind ; and the rocks of Scala, 
once so dear to his heart, now seemed to frown 
upon his projects. In imagination he heard 
taunts and jeers uttered triumphantly in the 
salons of Naples when it was announced that his 
enterprise was a failure, and he shuddered at the 
scorn the world would lavish on him. Unable 
to bear up any longer, he sought Mgr. Falcoia, 
sure of finding in him a friend who would at 
once strengthen and console him. But God 
permitted him to be grievously disappointed. 
The bishop, who had heretofore zealously de 
fended him against all opponents, felt wounded 
at the disgrace which must necessarily fall upon 
himself from the failure of the scheme, and 


received him with marked coldness. " God has 
no need of you or your companions," was his 
greeting to his disconcerted protege- " if He 
wills you to go on, He will raise up other disci 
ples for you." " My Lord," returned Alphonsus, 
regaining his courage, " I am well aware that 
God has no need of me or of my labors ; never 
theless I believe it to be his will that I should 
proceed in this work, and, deserted as I am, I 
shall yet succeed. I have not left Naples, I have 
not renounced the world, to gain the glory of 
founding a new order, but to do the will of God 
and promote his glory." This reply deeply 
affected the prelate, who suddenly changing his 
manner, said : " Put your confidence in God ; 
He will certainly bless your good intentions." 

He returned to Scala, much comforted by this 
interview, but the devil would not leave him in 
peace. Don Sportelli was necessarily absent 
frequently ; and when Alphonsus found himself 
alone on this desert mountain, disgust, anxiety, 
and depression assailed him more strongly than 
ever. One day, when these temptations were at 
their height, he fell on his knees and solemnly 
vowed to consecrate himself to destitute souls, 
even though he should be left entirely alone. 
God blessed this heroic act ; his fears and anxie 
ties vanished, and he was filled with courage, 
hope, and consolation. 

Even in his old age, our saint could not re 
member without a shudder the terrific struggle 
he had sustained on that occasion ; and he told 
his director, Father Dominic Corsano, that this, 


and his separation from his father, were the two 
most dreadful trials he had ever undergone. 

No sooner was it known that the new founder 
was abandoned by his companions, than every 
one in Naples ridiculed the whole affair, con 
demning the fanaticism of the would-be head of 
a Congregation who had blindly lent himself to 
the fancies of a visionary nun. Some even 
affirmed that the Pope himself had interfered to 
prevent the establishment of such a Congrega 
tion. The very pulpits resounded with anathe 
mas. Preachers showed how even the most 
favored individuals can go astray, when they 
allow themselves to be ensnared by the devil, 
and neglect the practice of humility ; and they 
pointed at Don Alphonsus Liguori as an illustra 
tion of their theories. 

Even his friends were silenced by the mockery 
and contempt which everywhere greeted them. 
Not one was to be found in the city of his birth 
to say a word in his defence. Father Fiorillo, 
indeed, felt sure that the devil had raised this 
storm, and that God would uphold his own work. 
The cardinal pitied him : " After all," said he, 
" there is nothing reprehensible in his projects ; 
but who can know the judgments of God?" 
Embarrassed, however, by an infinity of con 
flicting reports, he desired Canon Torni to recall 
Don Alphonsus to Naples. 

The reception that awaited him may well be 
imagined. Canon Gizzio refused to see him or 
hear his name mentioned. Father Ripa would 

have no further connection with him, and his 


example was followed by others who had once 
held him in the highest esteem. 

He at once visited Cardinal Pignatelli, 
accompanied by Canon Torm. His Eminence 
was grieved to hear the number of false reports 
that had been circulated concerning him. The 
canon, eager to retain his friend in Naples, re 
marked that, if the work had been pleasing to 
God, He would not have withdrawn the means 
of carrying it into execution. To which 
Alphonsus replied with entire confidence : " We 
have reason to be convinced that the devil is the 
author of what has happened at Scala ; but do 
not imagine that I am conquered because the 
devil has crossed my path. If my first compan 
ions have deserted me, other zealous priests can 
be found ; but I should not hesitate to devote 
myself alone to the salvation of the destitute 
souls of this kingdom." 

The cardinal, unable to refrain from admiring 
this speech, turned towards Torni and said : 
" It will not do to abandon Scala just yet ; let us 
have recourse to God, to learn his holy will." 
Then, to encourage Alphonsus, he said to him : 
Trust in God ; place no confidence in man, for 
it is God who will help you." He approved 
his constancy, and advised him to decLne all 
overtures of reunion with those who had for 
saken him. 

Consoled by the sentiments of the cardinal, 
Alphonsus returned to Scala, full of hope. 
Meanwhile, the opinions expressed by his Emi 
nence reduced to silence those who had pre- 


viously railed against him. The germ of the 
future Congregation of the Most Holy Re 
deemer consisted of the founder, Don Sportelli, 
still a layman, and Vitus Curzius, a lay-brother. 
Alphonsus soon had the consolation of seeing his 
solitude peopled by promising subjects. " Our 
novices," wrote he, in the fulness of his joy, 
" our novices think neither of country nor 
friends, nor even of suffering : all their desire is 
to love God, and conform perfectly to his will." 
About this time (July, 1733), they left the 
hospice for a dwelling equally poor, which an 
eye-witness has described in the following 
terms : " There was one small parlor, in which 
Alphonsus had made an oratory and set up a 
crucifix so beautifully carved, that it drew tears 
from the spectators. A square apartment under 
ground, more like a vault than a chapel, 
answered for their church. Poverty reigned 
supreme; they had not even a tabernacle for 
the Blessed Sacrament, which Alphonsus was 
obliged to place in a box decorated by himself. 
The altar was poor, but they endeavored to 
hide its poverty under bouquets and garlands of 
flowers. The greater part of the night they pass 
ed before the Blessed Sacrament, taking their 
scanty repose on the bare ground before it." 


The grotto near Scala. Prospects brighten. Don Xavier Rossi. 
A foundation after the saint s own heart. An incident. 
Father Mazzini. Loss of a Novice. The wonders of the 
Thebaid renewed. Tosquez becomes a financier. Mandarini 
endeavors to make reparation. 

AFTER the departure of Mandarini and his com 
panions the spirit of prayer and penance resumed 
its sway at Scala. All breathed self-denial and 
mortification, Alphonsus, as usual, signalizing 
himself above the rest. Close by the house was 
a half-ruined grotto, where every day he in 
flicted on his body the most rigorous penances. 
There is a tradition among the inhabitants that, 
while practising self-mortification, our Blessed 
Lady appeared to him, and bestowed upon him 
many spiritual favors. Even in extreme old age 
he was wont to sigh after this beloved spot, and 
cherished the hallowed remembrance of the 
graces received therein. Whenever he came to 
Scala, he visited his beloved grotto, exclaiming, 
" O my grotto, my cherished grotto ! why can 
not I possess thee now as in bygone days ! " 

Four months had scarcely elapsed, when our 
saint was enabled to resume his missions. 
Meanwhile he had been joined by Don Sarnelli 
of Ciorani, a priest ; and in the following January, 
yielding to his pressing solicitation, accompanied 
him to that territory. The inhabitants never 


lost the remembrance of this first visit, in which 
they were edified no less by the holy example 
of these two friends, than by the instructions 
they gave. After a few days they were invited 
by the bishop of Cajazzo to give a mission in 
his diocese. The general reformation which 
followed excited in the people an ardent desire 
to have a house of the Order in their midst, 
but the Fathers were not as yet sufficiently 
numerous to form a new establishment. 

At Formicola, there was a house well suited to 
the Congregation, with a church adjoining. 
Among those most anxious that the Fathers 
should effect a settlement in the town, was Don 
Xavier Rossi, a young nobleman who had already 
taken priest s orders. He exerted himself to the 
utmost, commissioned an architect to make the 
necessary alterations and repairs, and ordered 
that all should be done at his expense. 

Alphonsus, delighted with the purity of soul 
he found in Rossi, one day addressed him thus: 
" Don Xavier, it is yourself God wishes to have, 
and then this foundation." This saying was a 
prophecy. At that time, however, Rossi, 
though filled with admiration for Alphonsus 
and his companions, had not the courage to 
imitate them. But, after a while, a sudden 
movement of grace impelled him to go to 
Alphonsus, and even in spite of himself to join 
his little band. He served his mass, and was 
wont to remark, that it was not a man but a 
seraph that offered the holy sacrifice. The 
founder, perceiving his emotion, earnestly en- 


treated the Heart of Jesus to captivate the young 
patrician ; and so effectual were his prayers, 
that, the moment mass was over, he knelt before 
Alphonsus and begged to be admitted among 
his sons. To prove his sincerity, the saint 
counselled delay ; but he gave such incontestable 
proofs of a strong vocation, that he was speedily 
admitted to the novitiate. Xavier became a 
corner-stone of the new Congregation ; and hav 
ing rendered it the greatest services, departed 
to our Lord in the odor of sanctity. 

This foundation was precisely what our saint 
desired. Situated on the confines of four dio 
ceses, the adjacent country was very thickly 
peopled, and villages were scattered in every di 
rection. Poverty reigned among the founders of 
this institution ; one carlino (about eight cents) 
was assigned to each Father for his support. 
Only a belfry distinguished their dwelling from 
the surrounding houses. While the building 
was in progress, the people piously assisted. 
The neighboring nobles might be seen mingling 
with the neighboring plebeians, carrying materi 
als. Alphonsus labored like a common work 
man ; and, when the gentlemen endeavored to 
dissuade him, he said : " I wish to have my 
share in the merit as well as the rest." 

One day, while a poor woman was carrying a 
large stone, another equally large fell from the 
scaffolding on her head. Every one thought 
that the blow was mortal, but Alphonsus 
addressed himself to our Lady : his prayer was 
heard, the woman rose up unhurt. No one 


evinced greater zeal than the young novice 
Rossi. Not only did he bestow on the good 
work all he could call his own, but he went 
about the country begging alms for it, regarding 
neither the excessive heat, nor the streamlets 
overflowing from recent rains, that obstructed 
his passage. 

Alphonsus remained here until August, and 
it was here he had the happiness of receiving 
Father John Mazzini. Already had this priest 
attained a high degree of virtue ; and such was 
the opinion the founder entertained of his sanc 
tity, that he made him rector of the new house. 

The consolation he derived from this acquisi 
tion was neutralized to some extent by the grief 
he felt at the loss of a promising cleric, Michael 
Alteriis, whose friends violently forced him 

Michael had lately joined the Congregation, 
much to the indignation of his father, who came 
to the house accompanied by a body of police to 
carry him off. Alphonsus helped him to escape 
during the night ; but his enraged relations ap 
pealed to the cardinal, who advised our saint to 
let him go. 

" This victory will cost them dear," was the 
comment of Alphonsus. Hardly had the youth 
returned home, when the eldest son died quite 
suddenly. In his bereavement, the unhappy 
father exclaimed : 4< I have carried off one from 
God, and God has carried off one from me." 
However, God blessed Don Michael, because he 
had always obeyed the voice of his superiors. 


He subsequently returned to the service of God, 
and became an infatigable laborer in the vine 
yard of the Lord ; and, after a useful and holy 
life, died in the odor of sanctity. 

The life which our saint led with his dear 
brethren, renewed the wonders of the Thebaid. 
He ate sometimes on his knees with a heavy 
stone suspended from his neck ; his food usually 
consisted of pottage which he seasoned with 
bitter herbs. He took the discipline in private 
as well as in common, wore a heavy haircloth, 
and reposed, it may be said, on the boards, so 
thin was his poor mattress. His humility was 
extraordinary ; before and after meals he would 
frequently kiss the feet of his spiritual sons, 
placing himself in spirit beneath the lowliest of 
them. His cassock was so worn and mended, 
that there remained scarcely any of the original 
garment. On his journeys he would never use 
a horse, but went on foot or mounted on a 
sorry mule. 

A profound silence reigned throughout the 
house. Towards evening all assembled for re 
creation, which was in their case little more 
than an interchange of sentiments on spiritual 
things. Besides the meditations made in com 
mon, our saint was in continual prayer, and 
spoke only when necessary. 

Many priests and able young men were 
attracted to the rising Institute; and these, 
charmed and edified by the sweetness and sanc 
tity of Alphonsus, drew others after them. But 
if subjects came in crowds, unfortunately they 


withdrew in crowds, for few could endure a life 
so painful to flesh and blood. 

From a missionary and projector of an order 
of men to be dressed in red and blue, Don 
Tosquez became a financier and minister of 
state. A brother of his having died at Vienna, 
he went thither to administer his estate. On 
the way, he visited Pope Clement XII, to obtain 
a dispensation to be promoted to the priesthood 
But at Vienna he displayed such consummate 
business talents, that the Pope, on his return, 
made him inspector of all the ports on the 
Adriatic in the Roman States. Every week he 
had a private audience, which gave him admis 
sion to the Council of Cardinals charged with 
the administration of civil affairs. 

He repented of the absurd projects he had 
once suggested to our saint, and frequently 
spoke of him with the greatest esteem to his 
Holiness, who in consequence took no small 
interest in his success as founder of an Order. 

Mandarini equally regretted the division. He 
even went with Tosquez to the Pope, to render 
justice to Alphonsus. His Holiness was much 
delighted to hear such good tidings, and pro 
mised to do every thing he could for the 

Mandarini wrote to Alphonsus, begging him 
to come to Rome immediately and take advan 
tage of the Pope s favorable dispositions. " The 
Head of the Church," wrote he, " being so favor 
ably disposed towards your enterprise, I unite 
with all the others to beseech you to reunite the 



scattered sheep, that we may more efficaciously 
cooperate for the glory of God and the salva 
tion of souls." 

Although this letter rejoiced our saint, he 
did not judge the proposed reunion advanta 
geous to his work. He therefore sent a polite 
but indecisive reply. * 


Alphonsus preaches the Lent in the cathedral of Scala. Singular 
incident. Reception of the Fathers at Ciorani. Abundant 
fruits of that Mission." Retreat for the nobles. Villam 
joins the Congregation. Trials. 

WHEN the new foundation seemed sufficiently 
consolidated, Alphonsus returned to Scala. He 
was greatly consoled by the good which Spor- 
telli had effected in his absence ; nor was his 
consolation abated on learning that many candi 
dates had been awaiting his arrival with impa 
tience. At the request of Bishop Santoro, he 
reluctantly consented to preach the Lent in the 
cathedral of Scala, after which he conducted 
retreats in several monasteries of nuns. 

It happened one day that the bishop was pre 
paring to assist at some representation, and, 
Alphonsus calling, the prelate invited him to 
accompany him. Our saint excused himself on 
various pretexts: "Oh, you are scrupulous!" 
remarked the prelate ; " but where a bishop can 
go, missionaries may surely appear." " It is not 
that" returned Alphonsus, " but I fear the plat 
form will give way." " Father Liguori," inter 
rupted the bishop, " I know you are an excellent 
spiritua 1 father, but I do not yet recognize you 
to be a prophet." He then ordered the master 


oi ceremonies to have chairs placed for Alphon- 
sus and his companion. Our saint, no longer 
able to resist, begged the prelate to allow them 
to sit near the door. Scarcely was the prologue 
terminated, when the platform gave way and 
the play came to an end, in a manner painful to 
several present. 

Father Sarnelli ardently desired to see a house 
of the Congregation in the territory of Ciorani, 
of which his father was baron. The pastor, 
Angelo Guadiello, learning the good done by 
the missionaries in the neighboring parishes, 
earnestly sought similar advantages for his own. 
Don Andrew Sarnelli, brother of J. Sarnelli, en 
tered with spirit into the scheme ; and persuading 
the baron of the immense advantages that would 
result therefrom, easily obtained his consent. 
By April, he had secured for their maintainance 
a rent of one hundred ducats, which was after 
wards increased to two hundred, and finally to 
five hundred. 

When the Archbishop of Salerno was informed 
of this, his joy was boundless. As soon as the 
necessary arrangements had been made, Alphon- 
sus came to Ciorani with Mazzini and Rossi, in 
May, 1735. Four wretched donkeys formed 
their equipage. An immense concourse awaited 
them, among whom were the pastor and his 
curates. Hundreds of men appeared carrying 
muskets, which they fired off at intervals, vivas 
resounding in every direction. " Behold the 
saint ! Behold the saint ! " was the salutation 


which greeted Alphonsus on all sides. The 
bells rang out their most joyous peals, as the 
fathers led the way to the parochial church. 

Inspired by the presence of so vast a multi 
tude, Alphonsus ascended the pulpit; and taking 
as his subject the motive of his coming the sal 
vation of their souls he preached with such 
powerful effect, that the hearts of his auditors 
were penetrated with compunction, and their 
eyes suffused with tears. 

The baron asked him to become his guest, 
but on that day he sought no repose : the sick 
who were unable to leave their houses, sighed 
for a visit from the servant of God, Overflow 
ing with charity, he would not delay to gratify 
their longings. 

Next day, he received the felicitations of the 
pastors of the neighborhood and the noblemen 
of the country. In the evening he opened the 
mission, and the immense church was not capa 
cious enough to contain the crowds that followed 
him. Seeing the saint so poor, so humble, so 
radiant with devotion, the most hardened sin 
ners were touched, and the conversions effected 
were innumerable. 

The house which the baron had given them 
consisted of a species of cellar or cave which 
served as a kitchen, and two rooms more 
spacious than those of Scala. He afterwards 
added two more rooms ; but, in passing from 
one to the other, they were obliged to cross an 
open court, which was a great inconvenience, 
especially in winter. Planks formed the exte- 


rior wall of these apartments, admitting wina 
and rain through innumerable chinks. But these 
inconveniences were small, compared to that 
resulting from the fact, that the basement of 
their dwelling was occupied partly by a public 
house, and partly by a prison. 

In one of these chambers Alphonsus, with 
the sanction of the archbishop, erected a small 
oratory, reserving the remaining room for a 
sleeping apartment. Far from having super 
fluities, necessaries were often wanting to the 
missionaries; but they rejoiced in these priva 
tions, happy to participate in the sorrows and 
sufferings of Jesus Christ. Their oratory was 
their heaven. There might the holy founder be 
seen in the stillness of the night, pouring forth 
his soul into the bosom of his God. 

So great was the concourse of people that 
attended the mission, that the Fathers had 
scarcely time to eat or sleep. From morning 
till night the confessionals were thronged ; but, 
as penitents came very early and disturbed the 
slumbers of the poor old pastor, Alphonsus 
undertook to repair the ancient church of St. 
Sophia, annexed to the baronial palace, and 
in future received the people there. As all the 
inhabitants of the neighboring villages could 
not come to Ciorani, Alphonsus sent mission 
aries on feast days, to preach in distant places 
and comfort the sick and aged. 

Ere long, Ciorani was thoroughly reformed. 
Quarrels and dissensions were unheard of, the 
pious canticles of Alphonsus replaced the profane 


and licentious songs that had heretofore sullied 
the lips of the young people, and all emulated 
the virtues of the first Christians. When the 
inhabitants met, they saluted one another by 
saying, " Praise be to Jesus and Mary ! " The 
little children, taught by their mothers, lisped 
this blessed salutation whenever they met the 
priests. So abundant were the seeds of salva 
tion sown in this territory, that their fruits are 
still to be seen among the inhabitants. 

Many persons of quality, seeing the effect pro 
duced on the humbler classes, ardently desired 
to have a kind of mission for themselves. The 
baron being then in Naples, Alphonsus obtained 
leave to give the mission in the great hall of 
the castle. Several ecclesiastics assisted at this 
mission, and the fruits were recognized in their 
redoubled zeal for souls. It was in this retreat 
that the young priest, Andrew Villani, a de 
scendant of the dukes of Sacco della Polla, 
resolved to despise the transitory joys of this 
world, and consecrate himself to God in the 
new Congregation, of which he became so 
admirable an ornament 

But while these works, so glorious to God, 
were progressing, the devil excited the jealousy 
of some neighboring curates, who, instead of 
emulating the zeal of the missionaries, regarded 
it as a reproach to themselves, and so embar 
rassed the archbishop with their complaints, that 
he began to think of suppressing the house. But 
this misfortune was happily averted, God per 
mitting the opponents, both secular and re- 


ligious, to be disabused of their error. Hence, 
on the I2th of December, 1735, his Grace, by a 
pastoral letter, definitely authorized the new 
foundation, to the general satisfaction of the 
whole province. 


Imprudent Suggestion of Don Andrew Sarnelli. Evil conse 
quences. The Archbishop defends Alphonsus. Terrific inci 
dent. Extraordinary success of the mission at Naples. 
Interesting Conversion. Mission at Santa Lucia. Violent 
Persecutions. Punishment of the persecutors. 

THE house at Ciorani was prospering- miracu 
lously, when the devil again assailed it. Don 
Andrew Sarnelli, moved by an injudicious zeal, 
suggested to the archbishop that, as so many 
pastors profited by the labors of the missionaries, 
each should contribute a trifle towards their 
support. This measure was violently opposed 
by the pastors, several of whom demanded that 
the missionaries should be driven out of the 
territory. The pastor of Ciorani, on being invited 
to join the adverse party, indignantly exclaimed : 
" What ! would you have me deprive my flock 
of the great help afforded by these holy priests 
who labor incessantly in my parish?" 

They then represented to the archbishop, that 
the missionaries, under pretence of zeal and 
devotedness, sought to enrich themselves at the 
expense of the legitimate pastors. His grace 
smiled coldly and said : " I know Alphonsus di 
Liguori. Like myself, he is of noble birth. 
Vocation, not necessity, induced him to re 
nounce the world. Whatever anxiety he has is 


to sanctify souls and himself, not to amass 
wealth. " 

As soon as the inhabitants of Ciorani heard 
of these complaints, they sent a deputation to 
the archbishop to vouch for the zeal and dis 
interestedness of the missionaries, and his Grace 
replied very graciously that he took the mis 
sionaries under his immediate protection, and 
approved of the works to which they had 
devoted themselves, as being most advantageous 
to the souls confided to his pastoral care. 

This storm having abated like its prede 
cessors, the priests who were most opposed to 
our saint were the first to profit by his labors. 

In the course of a retreat he gave to priests 
about this time, the following terrible incident 
occurred : Speaking of the enormity of sin in 
the sacerdotal state, he quoted the words of St. 
Chrysostom : " In the priesthood, to sin is to 
perish." At these words, one of his auditors 
exclaimed, Nego consequentiam : " I deny this 
consequence." The unhappy man soon experi 
enced the consequence. Next morning, on begin 
ning the psalm, Judica me, Deus, "Judge me, O 
God ! " he dropped dead on the altar steps. 

In October, 1737, at the pressing entreaty of 
the Superior of the Propaganda, he went to 
Naples to conduct the mission to be opened in 
the church of the Holy Ghost on the 26th of 
that month. The good which God operated by 
his ministry was so abundant, that volumes 
would be required to register the conversions 
he made on this occasion. 


After this mission, he proceeded to Ainalfi; 
and thence to Majuri. In this place, a poor 
woman whose son had been assassinated, had 
persistently refused to pardon the murderer, 
though urged by the most influential persons. 
But a sermon by our saint so touched her 
heart, that she immediately wrote a declaration 
to the effect that she had pardoned the mur 
derer, and, bringing it to the church, publicly 
laid it at the foot of the crucifix. 

He was now called by his uncle, Mgr. di 
Liguori, to the hamlet of St. Lucy, in the diocese 
of Cava. The inhabitants led very irregular 
lives; but where sin had abounded, grace did 
much more abound. Abuses were extirpated, 
restitutions were made, scandals were repaired ; 
and so convincingly did he treat of the merit and 
dignity of chastity, that many left the world to 
consecrate themselves to God in religion. 

The buildings at Villa dei Schiavi were 
nearly completed, and the house was filled with 
priests and candidates for the ministry, whom 
Alphonsus directed in the way of perfection. 
A congregation of artisans had been established, 
which already numbered more than two hundred 
brethren, whose zeal and fervor made them 
missionaries throughout the district. The fre- 
quentation of the sacraments became general, 
and many individuals were aiming at a high 
degree of perfection. 

But again a storm arose which withered these 
blossoms, so full of hope for eternity. Under 
the pretext of defending the interests of the 


resident priests, a certain sower of discord began 
to declaim against the missionaries for coming 
hither to eat the bread of the inhabitants. The 
calumnies increased to such an extent, that their 
morals were attacked.- Father Liguori himself 
was denounced as a hypocrite who made traffic 
of his affected sanctity. 

Nor did the iniquity stop here. A wretched 
creature was suborned to defame Alphonsus, 
and she boldly showed presents which she 
declared she had received from him. But he 
took these slanders quite calmly, knowing that 
persecution is the inseparable accompaniment of 
works undertaken for God ; he merely cautioned 
the community to be still more circumspect in 
behavior, and to recur more frequently to prayer 
and penance, as their great resource. 

The promoter of these infamies finally suc 
ceeded in prejudicing the baron himself; and 
when our saint went to claim his protection, 
the irritated nobleman designated him as " one 
of these nasty hermits," and immediately dis 
missed him with many opprobrious marks of 

This scene being widely noised abroad, filled 
his enemies with joy. They now even dared to 
solicit the Neapolitan tribunals to interfere, but 
without success. Finally, they had recourse to 
open violence. As one of the lay brothers was 
going to the church to ring the Angelus, a 
warden, accompanied by several disaffected 
persons, met him, forced the keys out of his 
hands, locked the church, and ignominiously 


drove him back to the house. To forestall any 
defence friends might be disposed to make, they 
placed men, armed with loaded muskets, on the 

They next besieged the house, to which all com 
munication with the outer world was sternly 
interdicted. The situation becoming every 
day less endurable, their friends at Naples ad 
vised them to abandon the place to its fate. 
The bishop wept with regret, the poor people 
were disconsolate, and the surrounding villages 
were in mourning. On the night of June loth, 
1737, the Fathers shook the dust from their feet, 
and left the hamlet they had come to evangelize. 

God did not permit all this wickedness to go 
unpunished. The wretch who had accused the 
saintly missionaries had her tongue eaten by 
worms, so that she could not receive the 
Viaticum. Seized with the acutest remorse, 
she publicly confessed that she had uttered the 
most infamous calumnies. More terrible was the 
fate of other calumniators : one died in despair, 
uttering the most frightful cries ; another howled 
like a maniac, and died in that state; a third, 
who had suborned false witnesses and written 
down their testimony, had his hand withered ; 
the death of an only son soon after caused him 
to become an idiot, and he died in indescribable 

A fourth, who had been bribed to attest all 
the slanders, died in impenitence. A fifth, a 
healthy young man, fell dead on the ground 
immediately after the departure of Alphonsus. 


The chief instigator remained deaf to all these 
warnings. During a tremendous storm a 
thunderbolt fell at his feet ; it stunned him, and 
he remained for some time without sense 01 
motion. Yet even this warning he failed to re 
cognize. But, ere long, he fell into disgrace 
with his prince, was ill-used and persecuted, and 
within a year was found one morning a corpse 
under his bed, weltering in his blood. In a 
word, all who persecuted our saint and his chil 
dren were made terrible examples of the divine 
vengeance, as all the ancient inhabitants of the 
place have testified. 


Another mission. Apparition of our Lady to Alphonsus. 
Castellamare. The new house at- Ciorani. Scala relin 
quished. Regret of the inhabitants. The rain at Aquarola. 
Priests. "The Apostle." Wonderful cure. The standard- 
bearer of the Redemptorist Order. Alphonsus writes his 

A VAST field was now opened for the labors of 
our saint. He gave numerous missions, every 
where reaping the most abundant harvest. In 
the little village of Ajillo, especially, God gave 
him extraordinary success. Scandals disap 
peared, the taverns were deserted, and the 
churches were filled. There was not a house in 
the place in which the rosary was not said in 
common every evening. 

It was here, too, that the Blessed Virgin was 
pleased to give Alphonsus a public testimony of 
her love. One evening, while he was expatiat 
ing on her glories, he was ravished in ecstasy 
and raised some feet above the pulpit ; at the 
same time rays of glory darted from a statue of 
our Lady and rested on the head of her chosen 

Shortly after, he visited Castellamare, a mari 
time town, in great need of spiritual succor. 
Eight companions shared his labors, and multi 
tudes were converted. Smuggling was dis- 


continued, and the magical practices common 
among the sailors given up. The churches 
were crowded, the sacraments frequented, and 
the whole town breathed an air of sanctity. 

By this time the new house at Ciorani was 
finished, together with the small church, and 
the missionaries removed into it. Here, too, 
poverty predominated, and piety was the chief 
ornament. It was dedicated to the Blessed 
Virgin, and in it our saint placed the beloved 
statue of that dear Mother before which he had 
so often poured out his heart in the retreats he 
made with his companions at the house of Don 
Alteriis. The conveniences which the new 
establishment afforded, drew thither numerous 
ecclesiastics and laymen, especially in the gen 
eral missions, so that our saint and his sons, to 
practise hospitality, had frequently to sleep on 
the floor of an apartment which had formerly 
been used as an oven room. 

It is doubtful whether Nitria or the Thebaide 
ever counted, among the solitaries that enliv 
ened them with still life, more perfect models of 
every religious virtue than the Fathers ot 
Ciorani. Not a superfluous word, no going out 
without necessity, profound humility, perfect 
obedience, no pretension, no repugnance, no 
jealousy, each was content with his employ 
ment, the will of Alphonsus was regarded as the 
rule by his brethren and sons in the Lord. 

But the more he endeavored to consolidate 
the new work, the more the devil sought to 
destroy it. Several individuals, having learned 


what had happened at the Villa began to mur 
mur and to excite the jealousy of others. 
Alphonsus, to avoid new misfortunes, removed 
from Scala ; a proceeding deeply painful to the 
good bishop and the inhabitants. 

Hell rejoiced at this step ; and, years after, 
Father Tannoia heard from a soul far advanced 
in perfection, that, on the night of the departure 
of the missionaries, the shouts and dancing of 
the evil spirits disturbed the repose of the in 
habitants. No wonder: Scala had been thor 
oughly reformed. Two years later, when a 
mission was preached there by the Pious 
Workers, they scarcely found among the people 
a voluntary venial sin, and all sorts of pious 
practices were rigorously kept up. Yet calami 
ties followed the departure of the missionaries. 
A few days after, a violent storm destroyed the 
chesnuts upon which the poor of that district 
chiefly live. But Alphonsus could not forget 
his beloved Scala. Absent in body, he was often 
present there in spirit, and every year either 
went thither himself, or sent some of his Fathers, 
to give the novena of the crucifix, that the nuns, 
who afterwards took the name of Religious of 
the Most Holy Redeemer, might not be deprived 
of their annual retreat. 

The fields in which the holy founder labored 
during the following autumn and winter, were 
not less fertile in fruits of salvation. At Castig- 
lione the concourse was so great, that people, 
desirous of hearing him preach in the morning, 
passed the night in the church. The name of 



Alphonsus had become so renowned in these 
parts, by reason of the wonders of grace oper 
ated by him, that people often walked a distance 
of seventeen miles to confess to him. 

At Calvanico, the ecclesiastics to whom as 
usual he gave the spiritual exercises, were 
animated with such fervor, that they followed 
in his suite to assist at the missions, a practice 
not unfrequent at present. 

In the summer he returned to Ciorani, to 
give a little repose to the body overpowered 
with fatigue, and refresh the spirit in retirement. 

In the beginning of 1740, accompanied by 
eleven brethren, he evangelized the country, 
shedding the benedictions of heaven on many 
villages in which great disorders had previously 
reigned. Having finished the spring missions, 
he again returned to Ciorani to regulate the 
affairs of the Congregation, and reanimate his 
brethren by his example in the observance of 
the rules. 

The country of St. Severino suffered from 
great drought this year. To obtain the divine 
mercy, the inhabitants of Aquarola invited 
Alphonsus to give a mission towards the end 
of July. Their fervor was rewarded : one day 
he foretold that at a certain time rain would 
fall. The day indicated set in without any 
appearance of rain, but all at once a very small 
cloud was perceived above Salerno. When our 
saint saw it, he extended his arms, as if to in 
vite its approach ; and then, prostrating himself 
on the ground, he besought the divine mercy in 


behalf of the people. Immediately clouds ob 
scured the sky, thunder rolled, lightning flashed, 
and during the next five hours the rain fell in 

In autumn he continued his missionary labors, 
with signal success. Among the thousands who 
owed their conversion to his zeal, were several 
bandits and murderers. Many ecclesiastics who 
had been cold and indifferent, now devoted 
themselves to God with admirable fervor. This 
rejoiced our saint exceedingly : " The conver 
sion of a priest," he would say, " is more glori 
ous to God than that of a hundred seculars ; for 
no layman, though he be a saint, can perform 
the good works peculiar to the priestly office." 

He had great consolation in revisiting two 
monasteries, whose inmates led lives of wonder 
ful virtue. He strove to confirm them more 
and more in regular observance, love of prayer 
and recollection, detachment from the world, 
frequentation of the sacraments, and love of 
Jesus and Mary. 

A zealous priest of Nocera, Don Nicholas 
Tipaldi, who had become acquainted with the 
Fathers at Ciorani, eagerly desired the blessing 
of their presence near his own home. Knowing 
that Contaldi, the Dean of Nocera, had resolved 
to endow a house of missionaries, he spoke to 
him and to the principal inhabitants of the 
virtues of Father di Liguori and his compan 
ions, and arranged that they should give a 
mission in the town. This had the greatest 
success. Numerous conversions were wrought 


among ecclesiastics and seculars, and Alphonsus 
was universally designated the " Apostle." 

He certainly enjoyed many supernatural gifts : 
he knew how to touch all hearts. The spirit of 
prophecy and the gift of healing accompanied 
him ; and he often cured the most grievous 
fevers, by merely making the sign of the cross 
over the patient. 

While he lodged in the house of Don Nicholas, 
the mother of that priest who was subject to 
violent convulsions from acute pains in her arms, 
full of faith in the sanctity of her holy guest, 
wrapped herself in a shirt belonging to him, and 
was immediately cured. This made the people 
more anxious than ever to have the Fathers 
among them, but their hopes were not realized 
until a later period. 

It was on the i8th of April, the same year, that 
God called to himself the first member of the 
Congregation, Joachim Gaudiello, lay-brother. 
He died in transports of joy, exclaiming : " It 
is I who carry the standard ! " All the virtues 
seemed to have made their home in the beautiful 
soul of this good brother. As his portrait had 
not been taken before burial, the Fathers allowed 
his coffin to be opened eleven days after his 
death, in the hope that his body might still be 
incorrupt. The event justified their expecta 
tions : the sacred remains were found entire 
and flexible, as if still animated by the pure soul. 

The holy founder himself wrote in Latin the 
epitaph of this dear and cherished son. We 
give a translation : 


" Brother Joachim Gaudiello, rich in every 
virtue, sighed only for perfect resemblance to 
Jesus Christ, assimilating himself in every 
respect to this divine model, especially by his 
patience in infirmity, and his sweetness under 
adversities. He was particularly remarkable 
for his obedience: always the same, his whole 
life was but a following of Christ. Not on the 
wood of the cross, it is true ; but yet with the 
desire of the cross, and embracing the crucifix, 
the first member of our dear Congregation was 
crowned with celestial glory." 


Mission in Naples. Disagreeable incident. Firmness of the car 
dinal. Alphonsus Christmas Hospitality. Father Cafaro 
becomes a Redemptorist. Proposals of the cardinal." -Rejected 
by the saint. He is mistaken for the cook. His unselfish 
ness. Renewal of missions. He originates the Novenas 
previous to our Lady s Feasts. 

PROVIDENCE had prepared for our saint yet an 
other field to cultivate. In the spring of 1741 
his Eminence Cardinal Spinelli, who had suc 
ceeded Cardinal Pignatelli, lately deceased, in 
vited him to give some missions in Naples. He 
declined, on the plea that the capital was much 
better supplied with priests than the country, 
but the cardinal insisted, and he was obliged to 
yield ; for the city of his birth had certainly 
some claim upon his services. 

That his other missions might suffer but as 
little as possible, he took from his own Congre 
gation only Fathers Sarnelli and Villani ; but, in 
compliance with the wishes of the cardinal, 
he chose the elite of all the Neapolitan Congre 
gations to assist him, his Eminence being anxious 
that others might learn from him how to con 
duct missions with success. A country house 
in the Barra was placed at the disposal of the 

The Superior of the Propaganda was exceed- 


ingly annoyed at this arrangement. He affirmed 
that his Congregation enjoyed precedence over 
all the other Congregations in the kingdom, and 
that therefore to him belonged the right of 
nominating the chief; but the real motive of his 
opposition was the unwillingness of the members 
of the Propaganda to submit to a priest whom 
they had endeavored to expel. But the cardinal 
would not admit their claims : " I am your 
Archbishop," said he, " I am Superior of all the 
missions in my diocese : if the missions depend 
on me, it is I who will regulate them, and not 

In May, the missions commenced at Fragola, 
where Alphonsus opened three at once, in three 
parochial churches. As usual, he established 
the practice of morning and evening prayer in 
the church, visits to the Blessed Sacrament 
and the Blessed Virgin, exposition of the 
Blessed Sacrament, and protestation for a good 
death, once a month. To render the priests 
more skilful in the confessional, he instituted 
conferences to be held every eight days, in 
which were discussed cases of conscience. He 
established the Way of the Cross in each parish, 
and exhorted the faithful to the practice of this 
devotion, especially on Fridays, in memory of 
the sufferings of our Lord. 

When the summer heats came, the holy 
founder dismissed the Neapolitan missionaries, 
and remained with his own Fathers at St. 
Agnello, where they continued to preach and 
hear the confessions of crowds who came from 


all quarters. On feast days they evangelized the 
neighboring- hamlets, exhorting the people to 

On these missions, they followed the rule es 
tablished for the Congregation. Their bill of 
fare was rather frugal. Soup, vegetables, boiled 
meat, fish of the cheapest description, were the 
principal dishes, even when persons of distinc 
tion dined with them. This rule was but 
slightly relaxed even at Christmas. Persons 
attached to the household of the cardinal, who 
dined with the Fathers on that feast, jested about 
"the grand dinner" on their return. "Your 
Eminence is not aware," said they, " of the great 
treat Father di Liguori gave us at Christmas : 
forcemeat balls were added on that occasion, at 
the risk of ruining his household economy ! " 

Alphonsus, whether at home or on the mis 
sions, provided necessaries, but he had a horror 
of superfluities. He allowed the other mission 
aries to travel in carriages, because they were 
accustomed to it ; but asses and mules served 
for himself and his brethren. 

For a long time, Father Paul Cafaro, pastor 
of St. Peter s at Cava, had wished to join the 
Congregation ; he was a man skilled in theology 
and canon-law, pious and full of zeal for the sal 
vation of souls. Admitted by Alphonsus, much 
to the chagrin of Mgr. Liguori, bishop of 
Cava, he ultimately became one of the principal 
pillars of the Congregation of the Most Holy 

In November, the missionaries met again 


and resumed their labors. During Holy Week, 
1742, Alphonsus, though in the service of Mgr. 
Spinelli, could not refuse to go to Nocera to 
give the exercises in honor of the Holy Sacra 
ment, in the great church of Corpus Christi, 
the salutary effects of which were most 

The cardinal, in view of the wonderful bless 
ings that followed the labors of the Fathers, pro 
posed to establish them in Barra, situated in the 
centre of his diocese. But Alphonsus objected. 
" When my missionaries," said he, " will be 
settled at Barra, and have ladies and gentlemen 
for their penitents, will they be willing to leave 
that place for hamlets and mountains? Who 
knows but that, fascinated by their noble peni 
tents, they may fix themselves at Naples for the 
greater part of the year ? Your Eminence is in 
no want of able workmen at Naples, but other 
bishops have not the same advantages. It is not 
from Naples that we can draw missionaries for 
the remote villages." This reasoning appeared 
conclusive to the cardinal, who no longer in 
sisted on the proposed foundation. 

During the Octave of Easter, he resumed the 
country missions ; and, before the close of the 
season, he had given seventy missions, besides 
the spiritual exercises. An eye-witness, speak 
ing of the effects of his labors, says : " Were I 
to report all the facts that came under my obser 
vation, they would fill volumes. In the diocese 
of Naples, Father di Liguori banished scandals 
and abuses without number. No more un- 


becoming conduct in church ; women no longer 
dressed in a manner calculated to give scandal, 
and occasion sin in the weak. Girls who 
formerly seemed ignorant of the very name of 
modesty, now behaved with becoming reserve. 
Taverns were no longer frequented, dangerous 
pastimes were abolished, and the licentious 
songs, so common in the harvest and vintage, 
now gave place to pious canticles." 

Meanwhile, the labors of Alphonsus were ex 
traordinary : mind and body were continually on 
the stretch. He managed to do what would 
have overpowered another, so that people said 
he lived by a miracle. He often preached twice, 
and sometimes even thrice a day. His meals 
were always frugal, or, rather, poor. He gave 
but little time to sleep. During his journeys 
and missions he never diminished his bodily 
austerities, although he made others take some 
care of themselves. He always travelled on an 
ass, and those who did not know him often mis 
took him for a domestic. One day, as he 
preached the opening sermon of a mission, the 
peasants, struck by his beautiful language, said 
to one another : " Well, if the cook can preach 
in that manner, what will it be when the others 

He always reserved for himself the worst bed 
and the most incommodious chamber. Every 
thing came well to him, provided he was morti 
fied and humiliated. At Casal Nuovo, he gave 
up to his companions the only three rooms to be 
had, and reserved for himself a miserable ruin, 


still pointed out as having once accommodated 
Father Liguori. 

As the harvest time approached, our saint 
thought it best to confirm the good already 
done, before beginning new labors. He therefore 
sent missionaries in small numbers, and for a 
few days only, to those places in which missions 
had already been given. These renewals pro 
duced much fruit. They reanimated the fervor 
of confraternities, confirmed the people in their 
pious practices, raised up those who had fallen, 
and encouraged those who persevered in virtue. 

During this summer, he labored incessantly to 
promote devotion to the Mother of God, giving 
retreats for nine days previous to each of her 
feasts. He thus originated the novenas, now so 
common in Naples and other places, and so 
beneficial to those who engage in them. 


The saint resolves to form his disciples into a regular community. 
Reasons. Withdrawal of Father Majorino. His letter. 
Poverty. Ecclesiastical Dignities. Obedience. Vow of 
Stability. Dispensation. The saint leaves Naples. Father 
Sarnelli replaces him. Interview with the Cardinal. He 
returns to Ciorani. 

HITHERTO our saint and his companions nad 
lived together, without binding- themselves by 
vows ; but, remembering that the spirit of re- 
ligon is liable to decay rather than increase, he 
now determined to fix the spirit of piety by vow, 
and form his Congregation into a religious 

He therefore represented to his companions 
the merit they would acquire when, by vow, 
they would have freely sacrificed their own 
wills, and despoiled themselves of worldly 
wealth. "The renunciation of our own will," 
said he, " procures more glory to God than all 
the good works we would undertake by choice. 
A delicious fruit is pleasant to him to whom we 
present it ; but, if with the fruit we offer the 
tree that has borne it, the offering acquires far 
greater value. The vow will be as a buckler 
against the devil and our own inconstancy. It 
will confirm us in the service of God, and be as 



an anchor to preserve us secure, when beaten 
about by the winds of temptation." 

Fathers Sportelli, Mazzini, Sarnelli, Rossi, 
Vilani, and Cafaro, were regarded as the 
foundations upon which the Congregation was 
built, not only because they were its earliest 
members, but also on account of their dis 
tinguished merit. No importunity was neces 
sary to induce them to make this generous 
sacrifice ; on the contrary, they incessantly 
besought the holy founder to permit them to 
make it. The decision was hastened by the 
withdrawal of Father Charles Majorino, a zeal 
ous priest and a man of undoubted virtue, but 
who returned to the world through excessive 
tenderness for his relations. 

Hardly had he left the Congregation which 
he did without even acquainting Alphonsus 
when he recognized his error ; but, unhappily, 
he had not courage to repair it. 

" My Father," he wrote to Alphonsus, " I con 
demn my inconstancy and my inordinate attach 
ment to my parents. I have always praised the 
great virtues practised in your community, and 
shall ever continue to praise them. How 
happy you are ! I weep, I shall always bewail 
my misfortune. I shall never cease to praise 
the virtues practised among you : whoever 
envies not your lot shows that he knows not 
God, or that he has lost his senses." 

As the inconstancy of a man so exemplary as 
Majorino, was a subject of grief for his brothers, 
it was also for each of them a powerful incentive 


to consummate without delay the sacrifice the} 
meditated for God. 

Regarding poverty, it was determined that 
each, in preserving his wealth, should renounce 
the temporary use of it in favor of his relations ; 
but when they did not require it, the revenues 
should be placed at the disposal of the superiors 
of the Congregation. 

As to ecclesiastical dignities, it was agreed 
that they should refuse every thing of the kind, 
unless commanded by the Pope himself. No 
distinction of rank or merit was allowed, that 
the life might be perfectly in common ; to the 
end, to unite them more closely to God and to 
one another. 

Having by these regulations banished inter 
est and cupidity, he desired above all to unite 
hearts, by the vow of obedience, to the will of 
one superior. 

" Where obedience is wanting," said he, "true 
religious cannot live ; and what would have been 
a paradise by concord, becomes a hell by diver 
sity of feeling and sentiment." 

He therefore ordained that there should be no 
will but that of the superior ; and that, in the 
Congregation, reply and excuse should be un 
known. He established by unanimous consent 
that every one, on the termination of his novi 
tiate, should make a vow to live and die in the 
Congregation ; but, in case of sufficient cause, 
dispensation could be obtained, but only from 
the Sovereign Pontiff or the Superior-General ; 
while the Congregation would always be free to 


dismiss any member whose conduct should be 
disedifying, and who should prove incorrigible. 

Distrusting his own lights, he had recourse to 
God, and consulted many pious persons, espe 
cially Mgr. Falcoia. His plans being approved 
by all concerned, it was resolved that the profes 
sion should take place on St Mary Magdalen s 
feast, July 22, 1742, after three days of retreat. 
The Institute not being yet confirmed by the 
Pope, and Alphonsus having no legitimate char 
acter of superior, they agreed to make their vow 
of perseverance to Mgr. Falcoia, in his quality 
of bishop, as he took such a deep interest in 
the Congregation. All were filled with the most 
lively joy ; and our saint, after giving thanks to 
God, and exhorting his brethren to be faithful to 
the grace of their vocation, returned to the 
Barra with Father Villani, to resume his labors. 

Although convinced of the great good which 
resulted from his missions in the diocese of 
Naples, and the extreme satisfaction of the car 
dinal, it was with regret that he labored in the 
capital, knowing that his Eminence had many 
zealous missionaries at his own disposal, and 
that there were hundreds of other places in 
extreme spiritual destitution. He prayed, and 
besought his brethren to pray, that he might 
be delivered from Naples. He also entreated 
the Canon James Fontana, a man of great merit 
and very agreeable to the cardinal, to obtain 
leave for him to withdraw from these missions. 

His Eminence was not pleased at this pro 
posal, and peremptorily declared that, if Al- 


phonsus left, he would discontinue the missions 
altogether. Fontana, however, persisted, and 
finally persuaded him that the missions could 
be carried on successfully without Alphonsus. 
But it was only on condition that Father Sar- 
nelli should remain to superintend them, that the 
cardinal consented to part with Alphonsus. 

Mounted on a wretched mule, Alphonsus 
traversed the streets of Naples, and alighted at 
the gate of the archiepiscopal palace. Some 
were edified by his humility, others laughed at 
him. He sat in a remote recess of the ante 
room which was filled with ecclesiastics and 
other gentlemen. In a few moments the cardi 
nal came out, and, not noticing the other visitors, 
went straight to the holy founder, took him by 
the hand, and led him into an inner room. He 
spoke of the missions, and thanked the saint for 
the zeal he had shown in the cause. He begged 
advice regarding all that could be useful to the 
people, and testified the greatest regret at losing 
him. Alphonsus thanked the good prelate for 
the favors received at his hands, and begged 
a continuance of his protection for the new 

He then proceeded to the Barra, where he had 
promised to make the novena of the Assump 
tion ; and, this being finished, he returned to 
Ciorani, accompanied by Father Vilani. 


The House at Pagani. Humiliations. Ambition of Count Joseph 
for his son. Edifying letter. A new foundation. Miracle. 
Wonderful fruits of the mission. The Blessed Virgin sends 
a sinner to Father Liguori. 

THE zeal of the dean of Nocera and the ardent 
desire of the inhabitants of Pagani were now 
about to be recompensed. Clergy and laity 
were equally desirous of having the Congre 
gation established among them. The dean 
gave the house and furniture, promising to give 
at his death a further legacy of three thousand 
ducats. He expressed his intention of living in 
the house with them, and they promised to treat 
him as if he were one of themselves. The 
house was opened, October, 1742, to the great 
satisfaction of all. Father Sportelli was ap 
pointed rector, and Fathers Mazzini and Jourdan 
were to remain with him. 

Having given up Naples, Alphonsus com 
menced preaching missions in the more destitute 
parts of the country. As usual, his apostolic 
labors were crowned with the most astonishing 
success. God furnished him with many occasions 
ol exercising patience, meekness, and humility. 

In one of the many villages which he evan 
gelized, the abbot of a monastery refused him 
hospitality ; and, when ordered by the arch- 


bishop to receive him, obeyed with a very bad 
grace. As soon as the mission was over, he 
declined to accommodate his saintly guest any 
further; and, though suffering from fever in 
duced by excessive fatigue, Alphonsus left with 
out uttering a word of complaint. 

By order of the archbishop, he repaired to 
St. Thecla, although scarcely convalescent. 
Here, too, he was badly received, the pastor pre 
tending he could not lodge him, and that he 
had sent a message to that effect. A notary 
who was present on this occasion, was so indig 
nant at the language of the pastor, that he 
offered the saint and his companions the use of 
his own house, which they gratefully accepted. 

Again at Carrea, the pastor would not allow 
him to give a mission, though the archbishop 
of Amalfi had commanded it, and positively 
refused to receive Alphonsus into his house. 
Not in the least disconcerted, he quietly took 
refuge in a corner of the church. A gentleman 
who had witnessed these inhospitable proceed 
ings, received the missionaries into his own 
house, and God blessed their labors with signal 

When Alphonsus, always more and more dis 
gusted with the world, retired to Ciorani to 
pass his days in prayer, penance, and labors for 
its salvation, the world again beset him wit i 
its allurements. Don Joseph could not bear to 
see him devote his brilliant talents to poor 
shepherds and peasants, but longed intensely to 
see him raised to an eminent position in the 


Church. To compass this, he employed every 
imaginable artifice, but his blessed son was in 
vulnerable to all his attacks. " Speak to me no 
more, dear father," he wrote, " about the epi 
scopate ; for, if you should succeed in obtaining 
it for me, I would refuse it. We make it a rule 
in our Congregation to refuse all such dignities 
and honors." 

The count longed to have his son elevated to 
high rank on earth, but Alphonsus only coveted 
for his father the highest degrees of heavenly 
honor. " I beseech you, my dear father," he 
wrote, "to keep yourself more closely united to 
God. Confess often, and have your accounts 
ready, for our Lord will come when we least 
expect him. Think of your advanced age: who 
knows how soon you may be called from this 
world ? Come the day will, whether we watch 
or not. I recommend you to hear mass daily, 
for I fear much for your eternal salvation. I 
hope the Blessed Virgin will assist you ; but, 
without your cooperation, she will do nothing. 
Pray that I may accomplish the designs of God. 
I humble myself before you and kiss your feet, 
imploring your paternal benediction." 

The affairs of the Congregation continued to 
prosper at Nocera. Mgr. Dominicis having 
represented to King Charles the spiritual desti 
tution of his diocese, and the good that Al 
phonsus wrought in it by missions, the monarch 
wisely consented to the formation of a mission- 
house, and letters of authorization were speedily 
issued. When the first stone of the establish- 


ment was laid, the chapter of the cathedral and 
four pastors attended, the dean himself giving 
the benediction. Hardly was the edifice com 
menced, when materials flowed in from all 
quarters, as if by miracle. Men and women 
strove to rival one another in contributing to 
wards its erection ; even ladies of quality di 
vested themselves of their jewels in its behalf, 
and, like the gentlemen, worked with their own 
hands at the building. 

When the people of Angri learned the good 
our saint was doing, they insisted on having a 
mission, the place containing about five thou 
sand souls. He went thither in November, and 
was received as an apostle. The people strove 
each to procure some object he had worn or 
touched. He lodged in the house of one Law 
rence Rossi, whose daughter Teresa obtained 
from a lay-brother a pair of stockings tinged 
with his blood. She preserved them devoutly 
till a religious reproved her for doing so, as the 
owner of them was not yet canonized ; upon 
which she gave them away to a poor man whose 
legs were swollen by dropsy. Some days after 
he returned to the house entirely cured ; and, 
when she expressed her astonishment, he replied, 
" From the time you gave me the stockings, the 
swelling disappeared." 

Wonderful were the fruits of this mission. One 
hundred and twenty-eight abandoned women 
were converted, three hundred girls embraced 
the religious state, and a clergyman of scandalous 
life became a sincere penitent 


The mission of St. Matthew quickly followed. 
To inspire the people with devotion to the 
Blessed Virgin, he exhorted the faithful to erect a 
statue to our Lady of Dolors in the church. 
Immediately the women brought every thing 
precious they had in gold and silver ; so 
numerous were the offerings that a considerable 
sum remained, which was given to the poor of 
,he neighborhood. 

Alphonsus was so devoted to the Blessed 
Virgin, that this glorious Mother testified her 
love for him, by operating the most extraordinary 
conversions at his intercession. The evening he 
arrived, an unfortunate young man arose in the 
night to engage in a sinful transaction ; but feel 
ing a repugnance to commit sin with the scapular 
on his neck, he took it off to place it in a hole in 
the wall, when, upon extending his hand, he felt 
himself drawn back, and fled from the spot in 
terror. The following night the Blessed Virgin 
appeared to him in a dream, and said : " Miserable 
being, thou hadst respect for my scapular, and 
thou hadst no horror of offending my Son ! To 
morrow Father Alphonsus will come here to give 
a mission: go, confess to him, and amend thy 

The young man had never heard of Alphonsus, 
and knew nothing of the mission ; but next 
morning he went to a fortune-teller to have the 
dream interpreted. Before he opened his mouth, 
she exclaimed : "Do you not know that Father 
Alphonsus has arrived to-day to give a mission ? " 
When he heard the words, " Alphonsus" and 


" mission," he was thunderstruck ; he instantly 
went to the dwelling of Alphonsus, and recounted 
to him the whole story. " So then," murmured 
Alphonsus with emotion, "our good Mother has 
sent you to me." He heard his confession; and 
thenceforth the penitent led an edifying life 
under his direction. 


Obedience of Father Rossi. A welcome postulant. The saint is 
summoned to Naples. His father comes to Ciorani to enter 
as a lay-brother. The saint dissuades him. Persecution in 
Nocera. Alphonsus appeals to Mgr. Falcoia. St. Michael. 
Death of Bishop Falcoia. 

THE house at Ciorani was much too small to 
receive the numbers of clergy and laity who 
came thither to make retreats. Alphonsus pro 
posed to enlarge it ; but Father Rossi, who was 
then superior, objected, on the ground of insuffi 
cient funds. " Father, " said the holy founder, 
" we ought not to build as seculars do ; they 
amass money and then begin. We should build, 
and look to Providence for what is necessary for 
our undertakings." 

Animated by the confidence of the saint, 
Rossi commenced with one sequin ; yet he never 
had cause to regret his obedience. Means 
flowed in upon him from all quarters. One day 
when prospects seemed unusually dull, a young 
man presented himself to be received as lay- 
brother. On withdrawing after Father Rossi 
had received him provisionally, he slipped 
into the Father s hand some pieces of money 
wrapped up in paper, which, to the intense 
surprise of the recipient, contained a hundred 
gold ducats. He immediately called the youth 


back, but he never appeared before him again. 
One day Alphonsus directed the young students 
to get up a petition to Jesus Christ in the Most 
Holy Sacrament, for the success of the house in 
course of erection. This he deposited in the 
tabernacle, having added his own name to the 
names of the young clerics, his children. 

Scarcely was this done, when he was sum 
moned to Naples to assist at a council regarding 
the admission of several gentlemen to the honor 
of knighthood. Arrived at the place of meeting, 
he descended from his well-known mule ; and 
being about to enter, the guard, seeing his 
tattered garments, mistook him for a beggar and 
rudely repulsed him. The saint smiled at the 
mistake, and stood aside until the chevalier in 
waiting perceived him. This gentleman ad 
vanced to meet him and respectfully kissed his 
hands, to the great astonishment of the guard. 
On this occasion a sum of money so considerable 
was offered him, that it sufficed to finish the 
building. Having related this to his brethren on 
his return, he said laughing: " After that, how 
could I refuse my vote even to the son of a coal- 
heaver ? " 

About this time Count Joseph Liguori came 
to Ciorani to visit his son, and scarcely had he 
entered the house when he was penetrated with 
deep devotion. He admired the edifying lives the 
Fathers led, the silence which reigned through 
the house, and the odor of sanctity that pervaded 
every thing. His mind became full of thoughts 
of a blessed eternity, and his heart wholly 


detached from earthly things. He pressed his 
son to his bosom, kissed him, and blessed God 
for the benedictions showered upon the house. 
Every day more in love with the humble, peace 
ful life of the Fathers, he resolved to renounce 
his rank and its accompaniments, and serve God 
under the wise direction of his saintly son, as a 
humble lay-brother. So intent was the old 
nobleman on making this sacrifice, that he begged 
for admission with tears. 

The holy founder, though edified with the 
humility of his father, dissuaded him from his 
purpose: "This vocation," said he, "does not 
come from God ; you must live in the world 
and edify it by your example as father of a 
family, in which condition God has placed you." 

Don Joseph returned to Naples an altered 
man. Not content with being a pious noble 
man, he endeavored to become a saint, living 
the life of an anchorite. He kept up a regular 
correspondence with his dear son, following his 
counsels in all that concerned the salvation of 
his soul. 

Meanwhile, the house of Nocera began to 
experience persecution. The esteem of the 
bishop, the applause of the gentry, the con 
course of people who frequented the church, 
gave umbrage to some curates, and excited their 
jealousy to such a degree, that they repented 
having given consent to the establishment of the 
missionaries. This operated to so great an 
extent, that it alienated the minds of many, and 
diminished the reverence felt for the missionaries. 



As they could not reproach them on the score 
of morals or regularity of life, they sought to 
blacken their motives. These evangelical labor 
ers, who led lives so poor, were represented as 
grasping, covetous men, who would monopolize 
all the alms usually bestowed on the priests of 
the place. 

There were but two priests in Nocera who 
were not opposed to the missionaries. A regu 
lar plot was now formed, and the first move was 
to endeavor to prejudice the king; but God 
showed his displeasure in an unmistakable 

The enemies of our saint had employed a 
celebrated lawyer to write out a memorial of 
their grievances. He took up a pen, but it 
would not write ; he tried a second and a third, 
but all to no purpose ; finally, he succeeded in 
writing a page, but unintentionally threw ink 
over it instead of sand. Struck by these mys 
terious accidents, he exclaimed : " Employ 
whom you will, I will do nothing against these 

They employed another, and God permitted 
him to arrange the memorial. They would fain 
have the bishop to concur in their views, but 
he indignantly refused ; and to show how highly 
he esteemed the calumniated Fathers, he chose 
one of them for his confessor, and two to accom 
pany him on his visitations and aid him in 
preaching to the people. 

In spite of the bishop s friendship, the trials of 
the missionaries rather increased than abated 


If any of the Fathers appeared in the town, he 
was instantly assailed with taunts and insults. 
One morning-, while preparing to celebrate mass 
in the parochial church, a Father had the amice 
snatched out of his hands. Brother Antony, 
while digging one day in the garden, was grossly 
abused by a passer-by, who, irritated by the 
meekness of the Brother who continued to dig 
as though nothing disagreeable were taking 
place, dealt him a violent blow in the face. 

The holy Brother not only showed no resent 
ment, but knelt down and offered his other 

During the stillness of the night, wretches 
would come howling under the windows, insult 
ing the brethren by indecent songs and violent 
language. As soon as Alphonsus, who was then 
at Ciorani, learned what was going on at Nocera, 
he came thither with all possible speed. But 
how different his reception from what it had 
formerly been ! One person addressed him as a 
vagabond, accusing him of coming with his 
companions to eat the bread of the inhabitants 
and ruin them. The gentle saint humbled him 
self before this vile adversary, whose audacity 
was but increased by his sweetness and 

The petition addressed to the king, was wholly 
unsuccessful. The same was the case with 
another, addressed to the viceroy while his 
majesty was absent in the Abruzzi. Defeated, 
but not disheartened, they went to Cantaldi, on 
whom our saint greatly relied. So successfully 


did vice personate virtue, that the dean began 
to regret what he had done, gradually withdrew 
the assistance he had given them, and, though 
living in the same house with them, never 
addressed them a word. Alphonsus, warned 
by sad experience that the new foundation was 
in danger, consulted God in prayer, and went to 
Naples to advise with those wise and enlightened 
friends who had so often helped him through 
difficulties. He also went to Castellamare to 
consult Mgr. Falcoia, who, while they were con 
versing, suddenly exclaimed ; " It is the devil ! 
hold firm, and continue to fight." Then casting 
his eyes on a small statue of St. Michael, he 
added, " God and St. Michael will protect you ! " 
He then advised him to dedicate the house and 
church to the Archangel Michael. 

Alphonsus, as has been already remarked, was 
directed to a great extent, both in what con 
cerned his own conscience, and in what regarded 
the affairs of his Congregation, by Mgr. Falcoia ; 
but this prelate having passed to a better life, 
April 20, 1743, he chose for director Father 
Paul Cafaro, a priest of saintly life, and well 
skilled in the guidance of souls. Alphonsus 
made a vow to obey him in all things as he had 
Mgr. Falcoia. 

The death of this holy prelate was a great 
blow to the persecuted Congregation. He had 
loved the work of Alphonsus, and favored it to 
the utmost of his power. The last moments of 
this great man were sweetened by the presence 
and assistance of his spiritual son, Father Spor- 


telli, and several other members of the Congre 
gation. When at the point of death, he turned 
to the archbishop of Sorrento, and collecting 
his remaining strength, said : " My Lord," 
here he pointed towards Father Sportelli, " this 
is the work of God ; he will bless the Congrega 
tion and propagate it as the grass of the fields." 


The enemies of the Congregation. Its friends. The wicked tri 
umph but not for ever. Cantaldi s sister. Pope Benedict 
XIV charges Cardinal Spinelli to inquire into the affairs of the 
Congregation. Advice of Mgr. Dominicis. His death. His 

THE tempest at Nocera, far from abating, con 
tinued to rage with increasing violence. The 
holy founder, while having recourse to human 
means, prayed and mortified himself, beseeching 
many holy souls, especially of religious houses, 
to intercede with God on behalf of his perse 
cuted family. His enemies wished to blot the 
Congregation out from the face of the earth. 

But their intrigues and revilings at length 
aroused the zeal of several gentlemen of the place, 
who boldly declared in favor of the missionaries, 
and soon there was hardly a respectable family 
who did not side with them. When this mani 
festation of good feeling was reported to Al- 
phonsus, he wept with joy on finding his labors 
appreciated by the most influential class. Yet 
this only embittered his enemies still more, and 
in June, 1774, they carried their complaints to 
Rome and Naples. Though the foundation had 
been made with the consent of the king, they 
pretended that its existence was unauthorized, 
and its members useless to the state and hurtful 


to religion. At Rome, they described it as a 
conventicle founded in opposition to canon law 
and the decrees of Sovereign Pontiffs ! 

When the saint saw that his enemies had de 
termined to crush his Congregation root and 
branches, the lawyer rose up within him ; and 
the nobleman who had formerly electrified the 
Neapolitan tribunals with his eloquence, now 
reduced his enemies to silence by an energetic 
statement of the circumstances under which a 
religious house could be considered lawful or 
illegal. At Rome, he confounded them by bulls 
of Sovereign Pontiffs and the authority of canon 
law, and showed that no institution had been 
definitely approved until after a period of pro 
bation, having been in infancy protected by 
episcopal sanction. These documents, wonder 
ful for their profound legal acumen, satisfied the 
king at Naples, and obtained favor with the 
Pope and cardinals. 

The malecontents now had recourse to the 
Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, 
alleging that the house in question was injurious 
to the welfare of religion, repeating all the for 
mer calumnies, and adding that the Fathers 
carried on a shameful traffic in crucifixes, beads, 
&c., and compelled the people to carry stones 
for the new building. 

The gentlemen of Nocera, Pagani, Corbora, 
and St. Egidio, no sooner heard of this new at 
tack, than they undertook the defence : thirty- 
six of them charged themselves with the man 
agement of the affair at Rome, whither they sent 


an advocate and procurators. Several pastors, 
the chapter of the cathedral, the clergy of 
Nocera, and twenty-three clerics of Pagani ad 
dressed the Pope Benedict XIV, in favor of 
Alphonsus. His Holiness instructed Cardinal 
Spinola to obtain exact information from the 
bishop of Nocera. In his statement, Mgr. 
Dominicis, after having shown that the com 
plaints they had made were unfounded, and their 
accusations calumnies, proceeded to the most 
important point, namely, the end for which 
Father di Liguori had founded the Congrega 
tion. He concluded by an elaborate eulogium 
on the sanctity of the founder, and expatiated on 
the high esteem in which he was held by the 
cardinal archbishop of Naples and many other 
distinguished prelates. 

Unable to obtain the suppression of the house, 
they sought to interrupt the erection of the 
church, and by bribing the underlings of office, 
they altered the words, " the king permits the 
erection of a house with a church," to " the king 
permits the erection of a house without a church/ 
and showed it to the commissary who was there 
by persuaded that Alphonsus had exceeded hi? 
limits. The commissary therefore dispatched 
an order to Nocera to discontinue the work. 

This time the wicked triumphed ; and our 
saint was in great embarrassment, not knowing 
how to proceed. He sent Father Sanseverino 
to Naples to inform the Minister of State, Mar 
quis Brancone, of the obstacle, and entreat him 
to remove it. 


The marquis was astonished, for he remem 
bered expressly having given leave for the erec 
tion of a church. He ordered one of the clerks 
of the Bureau to produce the paper, and wrote 
with his own hand " a house with a church." 
On the 2 ist of July an order was transmitted 
to the syndic of Pagani, to permit the building 
to proceed. 

While God arranged the happy issue of this 
affair, He mingled bitterness with the sweetness. 
The good Father Sarnelli was called to a 
brighter world, and rendered his beautiful soul 
into the hands of his Creator, June 30, 1744, 
having spent himself in the service of God and 
his neighbor. All good people bewailed his 
loss; and the affectionate heart of Alphonsus, 
who loved this dear son most tenderly, could 
find no consolation but in the hope that the Con 
gregation had acquired a new protector in 
heaven. Unwilling that the example of such 
sanctity should be lost to the future members of 
the Congregation, Alphonsus wrote an abridg 
ment of his life, a labor of love to so loving a 

Silenced at Naples and repulsed at Rome, the 
enemies of the saint employed the sister of Can- 
tsfldi to declare that the house given them by 
her brother was her private property. Accom 
panied by twenty-two persons, including two 
notaries, she forced herself into the house, her 
brother refusing to appear openly against the 

Greatly distressed, Alphonsus came to Nocera, 


but the bishop and other friends advised him not 
to yield. An able lawyer was engaged, and the 
pretended proprietorship of the sister was soon 
exposed, to the confusion of the plotters who, 
nevertheless, became more violent than ever, 
One day a person of rank and a priest said to 
him: " If you will act the thief and rob people 
by force, why do you not take to the highway?" 
" Blessed be God," rejoined the saint, " I have 
given up my own house to be treated like a 
robber at Nocera." 

In August, they made another attempt, but 
warned by experience, they no longer attacked 
Alphonsus whose sanctity was venerated by all: 
their infernal rage expended itself on his com 
panions. Accusations against them, however, 
Alphonsus always treated with contempt, well 
knowing their virtues and labors in the cause of 
God. The matter was again carried to Rome, 
and the most respectable inhabitants of Nocera 
took upon themselves the expense of defending 
the Congregation at Rome. Benedict XIV once 
more charged Cardinal Spinola to make inquiry 
anew of Cardinal Spinelli at Naples, and also of 
the archbishop of Salerno, Mgr. Rossi. All this 
happened in the designs of Providence, who 
willed that this great Pope should be made fully 
Aware of the merit of the saint and his works, 
and disposed in advance to approve an institute 
recommended by such estimable prelates. 

Meanwhile Mgr. Dominicis attempted to 
arrange the affair by arbitration ; but when 
Cantaldi offered to assume the debts, but made 


it a condition that the Fathers should leave the 
place, and, in case they refused, threatened to 
shut up their church and force them to live as 
simple individuals, the bishop indignantly broke 
up the meeting-, and, turning to his clients, said : 
" Defend your cause at Rome and Naples ; 
trust that Cardinal Spinelli will recognize the 
justice of your cause, for God is with you." 

This worthy prelate, who was so deeply inter 
ested for the Congregation, died August 22, 
1744, to the great regret of Alphonsus and his 
companions. The adversaries of our saint were 
rejoiced, because the Congregation had lost so 
ardent a protector ; but God raised up for them 
a friend equally well disposed towards them, 
Mgr. Gerard Volpi, a prelate illustrious for pru 
dence, zeal, and piety, and for every virtue that 
could adorn the episcopal character. 


Illiceto. Alphonsus miraculously raised several feet from the 
ground. Early days at Illiceto. Happy death of Brother 
Vitus Curzius. Grief of Alphonsus. New Trials. Father 
Sportelli a match for his enemies. Right victorious. 
Might defeated. 

WHILE our saint and his companions suffered 
in their last foundation, God opened a new field 
to their labors. The Prince of Castellaneta, D. 
Mathias Miroballi, besought the holy founder 
to visit his fief of Illiceto, to give the people the 
instruction they so much needed. The Bishop 
of Bovino dispatched a canon of his cathedral 
to urge the prince s petition. This mission was 
crowned with success. 

The canon had another object in view. In 
a wood called Vallin-Vincoli stood an ancient 
church dedicated to our Lady of Consolation. 
It had formerly belonged to the Augustinians. 
In it was a large painting of the Blessed Virgin, 
for which the faithful of the vicinity had a great 
devotion. There the canon had resolved to 
found a community. Alphonsus, however, hesi 
tated, because the distance between the church 
and any human habitation was considerable ; but, 
when visiting the picture, he was so captivated, 
that Fathers Cafaro and St. Severino easily 
persuaded him to accept the offer. 

Near Illiceto, were vast domains of the crown 


where thousands were employed in keeping flocks 
and herds, and cultivating the ground. Touched 
by their destitution, Alphonsus sent Fathers to 
distribute to them the Bread of Life; and he 
looked upon the house in prospect as destined 
to supply spiritual succor to these abandoned 
people. The king gave his royal assent for this 
foundation, January 9, 1745. 

Having arranged the affairs of this house, he 
departed for Madugno, where Don Dominic 
Fiori, professor of music in the Cathedral of 
Naples, had invited him to give a mission. This 
mission was an arduous one, and cost much labor 
and fatigue, lasting forty days. It was during its 
continuance that Alphonsus, while saying mass, 
was raised several feet from the ground, as many 
eye-witnesses attested. As for the foundation 
proposed by Fiori, our saint advised him to 
make arrangements with the Fathers of St. Vin 
cent de Paul, having heard that the king had 
granted them an establishment in the neighbor 
hood, and not wishing to interfere with them. 

After their return, Alphonsus and his com 
panions suffered much at Illiceto. A priest who 
was there that winter, said in a letter : " Their 
bread was of rye mixed with bran, black as coal 
and ill-baked. Sometimes they had none at all, 
and were obliged to accept the charity of an old 
man who lived by the produce of his goats and 
the cultivation of a small field near his cottage. 
They were regaled with meat only when some 
sheep or cow died of exhaustion. Wild ches- 
nuts or crab apples were their ordinary dessert. 


They had no linen, and were almost shirtless. 
The house was a mass ol ruins. The wind blew 
more keenly within than without, the windows 
were of oiled paper instead of glass, the roof 
was so bad that snow frequently formed their 

Amid these miseries or, rather, in consequence 
of them, Alphonsus had the misfortune to lose 
the good Brother Vitus Curzius. In July, he 
was sent out to beg a little corn. Although 
unaccustomed to traverse the country during the 
burning heats, he obeyed cheerfully ; but one 
evening, being refused a lodging where he had 
applied for one, he slept in the field, and was 
seized during the night with a burning fever. 
Unable to drag himself to his convent, he was 
received into the house of a charitable priest, 
and, after forty-nine days of intense suffering, was 
called to receive the reward of his labors. This 
death deeply afflicted the tender heart of Al 
phonsus, though he was consoled by the reflec 
tion that his beloved son had passed away rich 
in merits and good works. 

The Chapter of the Cathedral and many re 
ligious priests united with the missionaries in 
paying the last honors to the sacred remains of 
this poor lay-brother, once a wealthy and elegant 
gentleman, but who, like his Divine Master, had 
chosen to serve instead of being served. All the 
confraternities and numbers of the people 
assisted, but rather to implore his protection than 
to pray for his chastened soul. The holy founder 
sang mass, but was frequently interrupted by 


tears. He afterwards consoled his bereaved heart 
by transmitting to his children a faithful sketch 
of this tenderly loved brother, whose sanctity 
shone resplendent even among the companions 
of St. Alphonsus. 

New plots were meanwhile being concocted 
to ruin the missionaries, God permitting his elect 
to be proved by extraordinary afflictions, that 
the strength of his omnipotent arm might be 
more triumphantly displayed. 

Cantaldi now openly attacked them. He re 
voked the donation he had made them, and, in 
concert with his sister, cited them before the 
royal council. He pretended that the mission 
aries had deceived him by usurping the title of 
Congregation, and demanded that they should 
be forbidden to build, protesting he had made 
the donation, not for a religious community, but 
for a college of priests. But the council having 
accredited an auditor to verify facts, the mission 
aries were confirmed in possession of the 
property, the deeds having been found perfectly 

But the animosity of these unfortunate people 
was far from being abated. Going from bad to 
worse, they at last laid two barrels of gunpowder 
under tHe foundation, and had not one of their 
accomplices, stung by remorse, revealed the plot, 
all would have been destroyed. In future, Father 
Mazzini was obliged to keep a strict watch 

Alphonsus was then at Illiceto. Far from 
being discouraged, these barbarities but increased 


his confidence of ultimate success. Meanwhile 
the Fathers remained as if in prison in Cantaldi s 
house, but such were the restraints and other 
miseries of accepting", or rather compelling, his 
hospitality, that they determined to quit it as 
soon as their own convent offered the merest 
shelter. Accordingly, the walls of the new build 
ing were scarcely finished when they removed 
thither, without heeding the dampness and other 
inconveniences. On the Feast of our Lady of 
Mercy, September 24, which occurs during the 
Octave of the Archangel Michael, protector of 
the Congregation, they entered their new abode. 

When Alphonsus heard of their removal, he 
rejoiced exceedingly, and wrote from Illiceto 
to urge them to a stricter observance of rule, 
assuring them that God would bless and sanctify 
them only inasmuch as they observed their rules 
with strictness and fervor. 

The malecontents, provoked to see the Fathers 
established in their new house, obtained an order 
from the council forbidding them to undertake 
any thing additional ; intending thereby to hinder 
the completion of the little church in course of 
erection ; and hoping that, by depriving them of 
every opportunity of exercising the functions of 
their ministry, they would ultimately force them 
to abandon the foundation. 

Informed of all this, Father Sportelli prevailed 
on some friendly gentlemen of Nocera to detain 
the king s officer for one night. He then sent for 
the workmen, and despite the protestations of the 
architect, the scaffolding was removed, the earth 


smoothed, a portable altar erected, and a con 
fessional arranged. The Fathers ornamented the 
altar and walls as magnificently as their poverty 
would admit, with garlands and tapestry. Per 
mission having been previously obtained to bless 
the church, Father Sportelli celebrated mass 
therein at daybreak, preached, heard confessions, 
and gave Holy Communion. 

The officer arrived early, and, calling Father 
Sportelli and the rest of the community, declared 
that by order of the. king no one must have the 
temerity to attempt any thing new, at the risk of 
incurring the penalties mentioned in the royal 
decree. " We shall do nothing new," replied 
Sportelli ; " nor shall we disobey the king s order. 
But I protest that this edifice is a church ; the 
holy sacrifice has been offered in it, we have 
preached in it, and administered the sacraments 
to the people." The adversaries were again 
outwitted, but they did not yield the victory 
without a fierce struggle. 


Missionary Project of Benedict XIV. Terrible example. Our 
saint s countenance is radiant with heavenly light. Precious 
death of Count Joseph Liguori. Illness of the saint. A 
liberal benefaction. Gratitude of the founder. He is again 
uvited to Foggia. A new foundation. An inhospitable 
noble. The saint sees from one foundation what is done in 
another. Signor Corona. Prophecy fulfilled. 

WHILE Alphonsus was at Illiceto, he received 
new encouragement to labor for the salvation of 
souls. Benedict XIV, convinced of the great 
good produced by missions, conceived the pro 
ject of reforming, by this means, the whole 
kingdom of Naples. By a brief, dated September 
8, 1 745, he delegated Cardinal Spinelli to super 
intend this work, with full powers to send whom 
he would. Many bishops solicited him to send 
into their dioceses the holy founder and his 
missionaries ; and when the vintage was over, 
they began to evangelize Foggia. Here occurred 
a terrible example of the divine justice, which 
served as a powerful warning to sinners. One 
of the Fathers happened to go through the 
public places to call the people to church. An 
unfortunate wretch, who had been indulging in 
deep potations, holding up a glass, cried out, 
" Father, would you like to know my mission? * 
and putting it to his lips, he instantly dropped 
dead! An appalling incident, and the most 


powerful sermon ever given to the people of 
Foggia ! 

Another extraordinary incident, of a more 
consoling nature, confirmed the spectators in 
their high opinions of the sanctity of Alphonsus. 
One evening as he was preaching before the 
image of our Lady of the Seven Veils, exposed 
for the occasion, he appeared more like an angel 
than a man, as a ray of brilliant light darted from 
the image and was reflected from his counte 
nance. Simultaneously an ecstasy came upon 
him, and he was raised several feet in the air. 
The people uttered cries of joy which brought 
crowds into the church. Over four thousand 
persons were the delighted witnesses of this 

For forty days this mission lasted, and its effects 
were wonderful. The floodgates of charity were 
opened in the hearts of the rich, and they enabled 
their apostle to aid young and friendless girls 
whose poverty placed them in danger, and to 
procure asylums for the aged and for repentant 

During the mission at Troia, as Alphonsus was 
about to ascend the pulpit, news was brought 
him of the death of his beloved father. He de 
voted a few moments to prayer, and then begged 
his auditors to recommend to Jesus and Mary 
the soul of his dear father. He had heard of his 
serious illness: but engaged in his apostolic 
labors, he denied himself the sad gratification of 
watching over his closing hours. Count Joseph 
di Liguori died laden with years and merits. 


He had led the life of a saint, especially since he 
had placed himself under the direction of his 
saintly son, and the memory of this illustrious 
and pious nobleman is still held in benediction. 

This death was the first of a series of family 
afflictions which rent the tender and affectionate 
heart of our saint all the more painfully as his 
duties, no less than his sublime resignation to the 
divine will, forbade him to give vent to the bit 
terness of his grief. 

While at St. Agatha, Alphonsus was seized 
with a violent fever, resulting, perhaps, from the 
depths of grief and affection awakened by his 
recent bereavement; but this did not impede 
the mission, and when he appeared in the pulpit, 
the mere sight of him produced compunction in 
the hearts of his audience. 

After this mission, he was summoned to Illiceto, 
to the bedside of his friend Canon Casati, who 
lay dangerously ill ; but, despite his haste, the 
dying man expired before his arrival. This 
worthy dignitary left his whole property to our 
Lady of Consolation, beneath the shadow of 
whose image his remains repose as he desired. 
Full of gratitude for this donation, the holy 
founder celebrated his obsequies with the ut 
most magnificence, and had one hundred ducats 
distributed to the poor for the soul of his 

Alphonsus was not yet rid of his fever when 
the inhabitants of Foggia, whose territory was 
desolated by a protracted drought, besought him 
to give them a novena in honor of the Blessed 


Virgin, who had always been so propitious to 
his prayers. Our saint hurried to the relief of his 
suffering children, and, probably as a reward for 
his zeal, the fever suddenly left him. Scarcely 
were the exercises begun, when rain fell in 
abundance. The seed was saved, and produced 
a rich harvest. 

Meanwhile, a new foundation offered. Mgr. 
Nicolai, regretting to find himself at the head of 
a large diocese in great want of spiritual assist 
ance, was one day lamenting his position in 
presence of two pious priests : directly they 
suggested the establishment of a Redemptorist 
Convent, and the archbishop eagerly embraced 
the proposal. Alphonsus, however, was not by 
any means anxious to bring the matter to a close, 
yet, at the request of Father Villani, he consented 
to give a mission in the place. 

The joy and consolation his mere presence dif 
fused among the population, seemed incredible. 
They regarded him as another St. Paul. His 
words seemed less words than arrows which 
pierced all hearts. During the mission he went 
with several gentlemen to inspect the church 
offered him. The situation pleased him, being 
in the centre of an archdiocese, surrounded by 
several dioceses, all in great spiritual destitution. 

The archbishop being then at Calabritto, 
Alphonsus set out mounted on a mule to visit 
him. Hearing he was at dinner, and loath to 
disturb him, he retired to a small chapel in a 
wing of the palace, to say his office. While 
there, the eldest scion of the del Plato family, in 


which the prelate was staying, came to close the 
door, and seeing a man covered with rags, he 
took him for a vagabond come to beg from the 
honored guest. Fearing he might steal some 
thing, the youth ordered him out. " Would you 
have the goodness to wait till I finish vespers?" 
pleaded the saint. " No, no," was the uncourte- 
ous reply ; " it was only yesterday we had a 
napkin stolen ; it would be too much to lose 
another to-day." The saint instantly eased the 
mind of the inhospitable Don Xavier, and 
finished his vespers in the street. 

After some time, he again presented himself in 
the palace, and the archbishop, hearing of his 
arrival, came out and received him with every 
mark of respect. Xavier del Plato s confusion 
increased, when he learned that our saint was a 
nobleman and superior of a Congregation. The 
conversation went on as though nothing unusual 
had happened, Alphonsus not noticing the young 
man s embarrassment. When the archbishop 
heard what had occurred, he was more than a 
little annoyed. 

God showered his benedictions on this mission. 
The humility, modesty and self-contempt of 
which our saint s whole life was eloquent, touched 
all hearts. All this time he suffered such violent 
toothache as to produce convulsions ; neverthe 
less, he sometimes continued his labors till so 
overcome with pain and fatigue, that he had to 
be carried from the church. Generally in his 
sermons he seemed ravished out of himself. One 
evening God showed him in spirit what was 


passing- at Illiceto. " While we are occupied here 
with the mission," said he, "the devil is torment 
ing my poor children at Illiceto." Next morning 
a lay-brother came thence, and spoke with him 
for three hours of the afflictions they were there 
enduring 1 . 

The archbishop arrived at Caposele according 
to previous arrangement, and he was so deeply 
affected at hearing Alphonsus preach on the 
Blessed Virgin, that he shed tears of devotion. 
The priest, Don Salvatore Corona, a learned and 
influential man, came to oppose the foundation ; 
and having entered the church, his mind filled 
with thoughts hostile to the Congregation, he 
was struck with apoplexy, as he approached our 
Lady s altar. He immediately recognized the 
divine hand, and said : " Mother of God, I pro 
test I will no longer oppose this foundation." 
Scarcely had he uttered these words when he 
recovered, and his mouth which had been twisted 
on one side by the paroxysm, resumed its natural 

True to his word, Corona advocated the found 
ation with all his eloquence ; but on a sudden 
the archbishop was seized with indecision, and 
spoke of delay. Alphonsus declared that he had 
come to give a mission, not to found a house, and 
that, his business concluded, he would depart. 
Whereupon, the Archpriest Rossi burst into a 
passionate fit of weeping, and casting himself 
before the feet of the archbishop, besought him 
to arrange matters at once. The establishment 
was finally decided on, June 4, 1746. 


On hearing this, the people testified the most 
unbounded joy. Every house was illuminated, 
guns were fired, and fireworks displayed. A 
noble family in the neighborhood put their 
forests at the disposal of the missionaries, to 
supply wood for the buildings. The inhabitants 
had no small consolation in the fulfilment of the 
prophecy of St. John Joseph of the Cross, that in 
twenty years a devout and zealous community 
of missionaries would be established among 
them. That period had just expired. 


The foreign comedians. Vision. Our Lady sends a penitent to 
the Missionaries. Removal of the Novitiate. Our saint be 
gins to publish. His devotion to St. Teresa. His work on 
the episcopacy. An opponent. He refuses the mitre. He 
pleads his cause before the king of Naples. He refuses to 
receive Mandarini. Insults. Instructions on various sub 
jects. Sermons. 

CANTALDI continued to harass the Fathers at 
Pagani,* but his machinations were powerless to 
hurt them. Alphonsus sympathized most deeply 
in their sorrows, and wrote from time to time to 
comfort and encourage them. He continued to 
give missions wherever he was invited, and in 
every instance success crowned his labors. 

On one occasion, while giving a mission at 
Foggia, a town greatly devoted to him, he found 
that a company of foreign comedians had the 
start of him, and that certain gentlemen had 
bound themselves to support them. This, as a 
new occasion of sin, grieved him exceedingly. He 
endeavored to have them dismissed, but with 
out success ; so he left the town, and when the 
people urged him to stay, he replied : " We can 
not serve God and the devil at the same time. 
Foggia will not hear me, but God will lay a 
heavy hand upon her and chastise her for her 
libertinism." Scarcely had he departed when 

* Pagani is a suburb of Nocera ; the latter is often called Nocera 
del Pagani. 



the town was shaken by an earthquake, to the 
great dismay of the terrified people. 

The erection of the new house of Caposele 
now approached completion. The Blessed 
Virgin deigned to show her love of this estab 
lishment in a special manner. There lived in a 
neighboring village an unfortunate creature who 
had been confined to bed for three years by a 
most loathsome disease. Every night he saw 
the devil, under the form of a goat, place himself 
on his breast, and press his throat and sides until 
he was nearly choked. One morning the Blessed 
Virgin appeared in his chamber radiant with 
beauty, attended by two angels. " My son," 
said this loving mother, " how hast thou the 
audacity to live in sin? Change thy life. To 
morrow thou shalt see my children of the h juse 
of Mater Domina. Confess, repent of thy sins, 
and Jesus will pardon thee ! " 

The vision disappeared, and the sinner felt 
inspired to amend, but he knew nothing of the 
approaching mission. Next day he heard the 
bells ringing, and on inquiry learned that the 
Fathers had arrived. Full of joy, he immedi 
ately sent for one of them. The Father, to whom 
he confessed with torrents of tears, asked if he 
had been in the habit of practising any devotion 
to the Blessed Virgin. He replied that he had 
made a vow to say the Rosary every day, and had 
religiously kept it. He died during the mission, 
giving evident signs of sincere repentance. 

As yet, the Congregation had no regular 
novitiate. Only subdeacons were admitted, 


these made their novitiate, following the founder 
from hamlet to hamlet. He soon commenced a 
novitiate at Illiceto, admitting young men not in 
orders. But because of the extreme poverty of 
the house, the young levites were discouraged. 
Some, not having courage to declare their weak 
ness to Father Cafaro, the novice-master, fled se 
cretly through the windows, the doors being shut. 
Finally, the novitiate was removed to Ciorani ; 
and there were soon, under Father Villani, the 
new novice-master, some twenty novices, whose 
conduct caused the greatest consolation to our 

It was from Illiceto that Alphonsus first began 
to write and publish his beautiful works. Mis 
sions, fruitful as they were, seemed too narrow a 
field for his burning zeal. He desired that all 
Christians might profit by the reflections which 
consoled and animated himself. While he was 
still in the world, the Blessed Sacrament was the 
divine object of his dearest affections, and the 
prolific source of all the graces bestowed on him. 
He therefore arranged some of the beautiful sen 
timents which fed his devotion, in the form of 
visits for every day in the month ; and as he 
knew not how to separate Jesus and Mary, he 
published at the same time prayers and reflec 
tions on our Blessed Mother, to excite the faith 
ful to love and serve this powerful advocate of 

This charming little work, so replete with the 
unction of divine grace, was joyfully welcomed 
by all pious Catholics. It circulated rapidly 


through the kingdom of Naples and the whole of 
Italy ; and, in an incredibly short time, a French 
translation was made from the fiftieth Italian 
edition ! 

His next work was " Thoughts and Reflections 
on the Passion of Christ." " That man," said he, 
" has no heart or no faith, who is not moved at 
the sight of a crucifix." Since he had embraced 
the ecclesiastical state, he had chosen St. Teresa 
for his special advocate, and frequently indeed 
did he experience the efficacy of her intercession. 
Desirous of seeing her honored, he published 
meditations and prayers in form of a novena, 
which comprised every beautiful thing that could 
be said in her praise. 

He next composed a book on the obligations 
of the episcopacy ; he sent copies to all the 
bishops in Italy, and many of them responded 
with thanks and compliments. He published, too, 
his opinion regarding certain cases of conscience, 
but this work gave some offe-nce. A certain 
priest, instead of discussing the question, wrote : 
" Who are you, coming out of the woods to set 
up for a doctor and lay down the law to others? " 
He then accused him of being a heretic and con 
demning vocal prayer ; to which the saint gently 
replied : " How can I proscribe vocal prayer, 
I, who have made a vow to recite the Rosary 
daily, and exhort every family to do the same ? 
Besides, is it not our practice to recite it publicly 
in all our missions?" 

In April, 1747, Alphonsus repaired to Ciorani. 
He found the novitiate full of virtuous young 


men, and priests eminent for learning and 
sanctity. At Pagani, he was consoled in a similar 
manner. The success of these two houses made 
him shed tears of holy joy. But remembering 
that the argument constantly brought forward 
by his adversaries was, that the Congregation 
was not authorized by the king, he resolved to go 
to Naples and obtain the necessary authorization. 

Having arrived at his destination, he immedi 
ately called on the Marquis Branconi, Minister 
of State. " The king has determined to make you 
a bishop," was the salute of the prime-minister. 
Confounded by this information, our saint 
instantly refused the proffered mitre, and when 
his Excellency would persuade him to accept, 
he said : " If you love me, never speak of such a 
thing. I have renounced the world : its dignities 
can inspire me only with horror;" nor would he 
desist, until the marquis promised to torment 
him no more on the subject. 

Having recommended to him the interests of 
the Congregation, he begged of the chamberlain 
to procure him an audience with the king. This 
was speedily granted. One day, as he was saying 
his office in the cloisters of St. Catharine, he 
was told that the king awaited him. Introduced 
to his majesty in the usual patched cassock, he 
eloquently expatiated on the want of spiritual 
succor to which the poor were subjected, and the 
evils resulting to the commonwealth from the 
ignorance of so large a class. The missionaries, 
he said, had done more than their share to allevi 
ate the deplorable effects of this state of things, 


but they could no longer endure the anomaly of 
their present position : it was essentia* now that 
his majesty should recognize their institute for a 
regular Congregation. 

He then presented the rules, and in a few 
words explained the objects of the Institute. The 
neart of the pious monarch was touched ; he 
took notes with his royal hand, and placed the 
rules and the accompanying petition in the 
keeping of his grand-almoner. 

All this coming to the ears of Mandarini, he 
became more pressing than ever for a reunion, 
and even went to Ciorani, and offered, on the part 
of his companions, to embrace unreservedly the 
rules of Alphonsus. Though deeply moved by 
this step, our saint feared to consent. " One who 
has been accustomed to possess and to com 
mand," said he, " will not like to find himself poor 
and deprived of his liberty. To-day he is ready 
to sacrifice his own will, to-morrow he would 
regret having vowed obedience to another. A 
reunion, without being beneficial to your subjects, 
might be hurtful to mine." 

Mandarini applied to the grand-almoner, who 
signified his wish to Alphonsus that he immedi 
ately accept the humble proposal of Mandarini ; 
but our saint by prayer, entreaties, and the 
influence of many distinguished friends, finally 
gained his point. 

While these affairs were progressing, he hardly 
took time to eat or sleep. Overpowered with 
fatigue, he might daily be seen going from 
palace to palace. Some refused him admission, 


others listened with a cold, abstracted air. One 
day a princess who had formerly known him, 
happened to pass through the antechamber in 
which he was seated. Seeing him so poor and 
ragged, she exclaimed, " Oh, how dirty you are ! " 
" I do not understand you," rejoined the saint. 
" Ah ! then," said she, turning her back upon him, 
" you must be from Calabria." 

The king, though temporizing, to say the least, 
about approving the Congregation, wished to 
adorn Alphonsus with the mitre. The see of 
Palermo becoming vacant, he exclaimed : " The 
Pope makes good selections, but I will make a 
better." He then ordered the prime-minister to 
notify the bishop-elect, that his majesty would 
take no refusal. 

Foreseeing that the Pope would sustain the 
action of the king, he felt no repose day or night ; 
he wrote to Father Cafaro, his director, that he 
would sooner hide in the depths of the forest than 
become a bishop. He charged all the houses 
to have special prayers offered up for him, and 
begged the same favor of all the holy souls he 
knew, redoubling, meanwhile, his own austerities. 
For a whole month, the king continued inflexible, 
but God was pleased ultimately to grant the 
desires of his servant. Quite unexpectedly the 
sovereign yielded to the reasoning of Marquis 
Branconi, who maintained that Alphonsus the 
missionary was much more useful to the kingdom 
than Alphonsus archbishop of the distant see of 
Palermo would be. 

The refusal of Alphonsus gave offence to 


many, but, on reflection, all were edified b\ his 
humility. " The church," said he, "is not ir 
want of bishops, but of men who will labor foi 
souls in remote and abandoned places. * 

He now retired to Ciorani for some days. Or 
his return, he was requested by his old* friend anc 1 
companion, Don Joseph Porpora, to preach the 
novena preparatory to the festival of the As 
sumption. Though wholly unprepared, having 
left his books and notes at Ciorani, he at once 
exclaimed : " Well ; I will say every thing the 
Blessed Virgin will put into my mind." 

He treated of the humility of Mary as con 
trasted with the pride of men, the ardent love of 
Mary and the coldness of men, the union of 
Mary s will with the Divine will, and the opposi 
tion of the will of men to the will of God. He 
depicted the precious death of Mary, and the 
help she affords her cherished servants in their 
last hour. Finally, on the day of the Assumption 
he enraptured his audience, by dilating on the 
glorious triumph of Mary crowned in heaven. 
During this novena, thousands awoke from sin, 
and, penetrated with lively sorrow, returned to 
God, by beginning a new life. 

He was now invited by Canon Borgia, Superior 
of the Apostolic Missions, to give a retreat to his 
brethren. Our saint consented, and during the 
exercises, he expatiated chiefly on the obligation 
of preachers to make known Christ crucified, and 
not to preach themselves. He spoke vehemently 
against a celebrated preacher, lately deceased, 
who, by his style of preaching, had shown him- 


self a traitor to the word of God. " Fill your 
discourses," said he, "with the truths of the 
Gospel, and do not fatigue yourselves, seeking for 
vain ornaments which produce no fruit. Ah ! I 
pray that he to whom I now allude may not have 
to expiate his vanity in purgatory." 

Several young ecclesiastics were offended at 
the apostolic boldness of the Saint : " To blame 
such a preacher!" exclaimed one, "and that 
publicly!" "One does not speak in public," 
returned Alphonsus, " when he addresses only 
ecclesiastics." Don Borgia was so delighted with 
this sermon, that he begged the saint to give 
another on the same subject, which was done, 
and in still stronger language. More than one 
of the audience was filled with a salutary confusion 
by the saint s remarks. 

During his sojourn at Naples, as he was saying 
Mass in the Oratorian Church, when he turned 
around to give communion, he perceived a gentle 
man seated cross-legged in the choir. " Have you 
lost the use of your limbs that you cannot kneel ? " 
was the indignant exclamation of the celebrant ; 
whereupon the man sank on his knees, but, being 
excessively provoked, he began to cough and 
make all manner of noise. When Mass was 
over, he ran to the sacristy to inquire what 
wretched priest had said Mass. But when the 
name, Don Alfonso di Liguori, was uttered, he 
felt greatly ashamed, and was careful to retire 
before the saint returned to the sacristy. 

For over three weeks Alphonsus suffered from 
violent toothache, but he never ceased a moment 


to apply himself to his ordinary avocations. At 
last he was obliged to have a tooth extracted, 
and for this purpose he repaired to a barber s 
shop, like the poorest laborer. Soon after, per 
ceiving that Father Francis preserved the tooth, 
he asked to see it, and snatching it up, threw it 
into a ditch. 

Towards the end of autumn, our saint returned 
to Nocera, to prepare for new labors. 


The saint repairs to Naples. Tanucci opposes him. Illness. A 
strange calumny. Renewed efforts to procure the confirma 
tion of his institute. Mission. Fortunate circumstance for 
Alphonsus. Incessant labors. He gives a retreat in the 
Cathedral. Criticism. Changes suggested. Father Villani in 
Rome. Ruse. Graciousness of the Pope to Father Villani. 

IN the beginning of 1748, Alphonsus having 
returned to Naples, Branconi informed him that 
the king was dissatisfied that the Council of 
State had refused to recognize his Congregation. 
Our saint therefore presented a new petition for 
the confirmation of his institute, declining to ask 
for a subsidy for its support, which, owing to the 
favorable dispositions of the king, would have 
been readily granted. His disinterestedness 
greatly pleased the marquis, but the chief minis 
ter, Tanucci, had political views not in accordance 
with the pious designs of the monarch, and the 
petition, though presented by Branconi, remained 

Scarcely twelve days had elapsed since his 
arrival, when he was seized with an asthma so 
violent that he could not speak. For some weeks 
he was unable to say Mass, but though obliged 
to remain in bed, he directed all who carne to 
him on affairs of conscience. Upon recovering, 
he resumed all his labors, and multitudes were 
converted by his discourses. 


About this time he became the object of a 
most malicious calumny. Speaking- of the love 
of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and the readi 
ness with which He receives us, he quoted these 
words of St. Teresa : " It is not thus with earthly 
kings, they give audience only a few times a 
year : and how much it costs to obtain an audi 
ence ! Then no one dares to say all he wishes, 
while we can open our hearts to Jesus in the 
Blessed Sacrament with the fullest confidence at 
all times." These words a wretch present 
construed into an insult to the king; and to 
ingratiate himself with his majesty, he repre 
sented Alphonsus as a person who endeavored 
to sow discord between the monarch and his 
people. Tanucci, the minister, being unac 
quainted with our saint, believed the calumny, 
and threatened to banish him from Naples. 

Six days later, Alphonsus learned the evil 
construction that had been put upon his words. 
He immediately informed the cardinal, who was 
extremely indignant at the calumny. Through 
the medium of that estimable prelate, the king 
and his minister were speedily undeceived, and 
from that moment held Alphonsus in higher 
esteem and veneration than ever. 

He renewed his efforts to procure the confirm 
ation of his institute, but was again unsuccessful, 
though the king graciously bade him rely upon 
the royal protection. He was now requested to 
give a retreat at the barracks of Pizzo Falconi. 
The exercises were attended by the prince and 
the state-major in command. Seeing the effect 


the spiritual exercises produced on the officers, he 
was asked to extend his zeal to the privates, which 
he gladly did. Scandals rapidly disappeared 
from among them. Our saint furnished them 
with a small library at his own expense. So 
thorough was the conversion of these men, 
that five quitted the service to dedicate them 
selves to God in religion. 

Alphonsus now returned to Nocera, and here 
an event occurred which at last brought peace 
to that much-afflicted community. A dean in 
the neighborhood, who had been greatly preju 
diced against the Fathers, had a relative who led 
a very bad life. Offended by the charitable 
warnings of his friend, the young wretch over 
took him one evening, beat him, wounded him 
on the head, and left him for dead. Father 
Mazzini, hearing this, made haste to offer him 
the necessary spiritual and corporal aid, and, 
alternately with the other Fathers, nursed him 
with all possible tenderness and assiduity till he 
became convalescent. The poor dean was so 
grateful for this kindness, that he thought of 
nothing but how he could recompense his kind 
benefactors ; and through his means, aided by the 
worthy bishop, the leaders of the conspiracy 
were convinced of the pernicious nature of 
their proceedings, and peace was soon restored. 

Though the royal council had decided in favor 
of. Alphonsus against Cantaldi, yet our saint, 
having the peace of his Congregation more at 
heart than its temporal interests, persuaded the 
bishop to allow him to resign at once the donations 


made by Cantaldi. This disinterestedness was 
duly appreciated by all good men, and gained 
general applause throughout Naples. Mgr. Volpi 
contributed much to the establishment of peace, 
for he knew how to value Alphonsus and his 
companions. He consulted them in every 
emergency. He gave audiences at their house, 
and ordered many to come thither for spiritual 
exercises, instruction in the rubrics, and to reform 
their conduct. The esteem shown them by the 
bishop conciliated their enemies. 

Alphonsus continued his warfare for God in 
every direction, his burning zeal allowing him no 
repose. " Who knows," said he, " what God 
requires of me? perhaps the predestination of 
certain souls may be attached to one of my 
sermons." He opened a mission in the church 
of St. Anne, and it seemed as if he had but to 
cast out his net to receive a miraculous draught 
of fishes. He continued his labors in the suburb 
of St. Anthony, to which the unfortunate women 
of the town had been compelled to withdraw 
through his exertions and those of Father 
Sarnelli. Many of these poor creatures, touched 
by grace, approached the tribunal of penance 
and were thoroughly converted. Of these fervent 
converts, some were placed in houses of refuge, 
and some were taken care of by charitable women. 
He also preached frequently in religious houses, 
to console and animate those consecrated virgins 
whom he regarded as the most precious portion 
of the flock of the Good Shepherd, and to 
inflame their hearts more and more with divine 


love. Besides, his room was almost always 
crowded with persons of distinction, lay and 
clerical, who daily repaired to him for in 
struction and direction, so that he could scarcely 
find time for his office and other devotions. 

Cardinal Spinelli requested him to give a 
retreat in the cathedral, and that immense 
church could hardly accommodate his hearers. 
An eye-witness remarked that eternity alone can 
disclose the wonders of peace operated in the 
hearts of many, even of professed infidels. 

At length he went to the country to distribute 
the bread of life among the poor peasants. At 
Victry, a daring fellow entered the church to 
criticise the preacher, but though " he went to 
scoff, he remained to pray." " The sermons of 
other preachers " said he, " speak to the mind, 
but the words of Father Liguori penetrate the 
heart." He immediately went to confession, 
and he persevered to the end. 

In 1748, the new Congregation had already 
become rich in subjects of profound learning 
and eminent sanctity, and was approved by the 
episcopate of the kingdom. He therefore deter 
mined to apply for the approbation of the Pope. 
He addressed a petition to Benedict XIV, 
through Mgr. Puoti, a prelate honored with the 
particular friendship of his Holiness. 

The Pope ordered Cardinal Gentili to charge 
Cardinal Spinelli to take informations on the 
subject. The rules were at once submitted to 
his Eminence, who, though admiring the wisdom 
of the general arrangements, thought that the 


health of the Fathers must fail, if so much fast 
ing were joined to such fatigues, for a workman 
needs his health ; also that it might be best to 
limit the number of consultors to six, Alphonsus 
having determined upon twelve, in honor of the 
twelve apostles. 

Every one now advised our saint to proceed 
to Rome, but he concealed his humility under 
pretence of infirmities, and delegated Father 
Villani and another Father to act for him. 
Many bishops, besides those in whose dioceses 
the Congregation was established, wrote to give 
favorable testimony at Rome, and several noble 
men and other distinguished persons wrote in their 
behalf to Cardinal Orsini and the Duke of Tora. 

When the rule was presented to the members 
of the Sacred Congregation, they retrenched, as 
superfluous, the vow of placing themselves at 
the disposal of the Pope : " We suppose," said 
the cardinal, " that all religious orders are ever 
ready to obey a sign from the Holy Father." 

Full of admiration for the rule, the cardinals 
unanimously approved it, though an auditor 
who had read the laudatory approbation of Car 
dinal Spinelli, regarding the good done by the 
institute in Naples, pretended that this meant 
that it ought to be confined to that kingdom. 
But the Cardinal answered that Alphonsus had 
applied for sanction for his Congregation 
throughout the whole Church, and added : " It 
is but just that a work of such magnitude should 
be universal." 

Yet no decree was issued. Towards the end 


of February, Father Villani . visited Cardinal 
Orsini, who thus addressed him : "Be comforted ; 
this morning the Sacred Congregation has had 
one of its most difficult conferences." " But," 
said Father Villani, " what cannot be done in the 
Congregation might be done at the house of the 
cardinal-prefect?" " True," returned his Emi 
nence, " and 1 will repair thither immediately. 
Recommend my business to God with yours." 
The same day the decree of approbation was 

Father Villani, on being presented to the Pope, 
asked for a confirmation of the decree. Next 
day, His Holiness read the decree and the rule. 
He was particularly pleased that the offices of the 
Rector-Major and his councillors were perpetual. 
" This," he said, " hinders parties and divisions 
among the Regulars." He then suggested that 
the Congregation should take the name of Holy 
Redeemer, instead of Holy Savior, the latter being 
already borne by a Congregation at Venice. 

The Pope named Alphonsus perpetual Supe 
rior of the Congregation, but our saint piteously 
entreated to be delivered from so heavy a 
burden. " Your Reverence must have patience," 
wrote Villani in reply ; " since you are named 
perpetual Rector, you must submit to the yoke. 
Speak no more on the subject, dear Father, for 
you are bound by duty, justice, and gratitude." 

The devil, however, wished to thwart the 
work of God. There was at Naples a com 
munity, otherwise very respectable, which beheld 
with a jealous eye the progress of the Congrega- 


tion, and sent one of its members to Rome to 
give Alphonsus all possible opposition. But he 
arrived too late. Yet, determined to effect some 
mischief, this envoy gained over one of the offi 
cials to pretend that the rules were approved, but 
not the institute. The Pope, seeing the ruse, was 
very indignant, and wrote with his own hand 
Regulam et Institution ; so that, to the confusion 
of the malevolent, Alphonsus had the satisfac 
tion of receiving from Rome, February 25, 1749, 
the confirmation of the Rule and Institute. 

When our saint heard this news he shed tears 
of joy, and prostrating himself on the ground 
with the other Fathers, thanked God for His 
mercies. The community bell was rung, and all 
went to the church to chant the Te Deum, after 
which Alphonsus exhorted his spiritual children 
to correspond to so great a grace by ever- 
increasing fervor in the exact observance of rule, 
and in the love of Jesus and Mary. 

At the last audience accorded to Villani, His 
Holiness inquired whether he had any thing 
further to ask. The Father begged the apostolic 
benediction for the holy founder and all the 
members of the Congregation, which was freely 
accorded, with several special indulgences and 
other favors. " From whence are you, my son ? " 
continued the Pontiff. " I am of Naples," was 
the reply. The Pope said in a sweet and gentle 
voice : " I bless you, your father and mother, and 
all the members of your family," at the same 
time according him several graces, with power 
to impart them to his friends. 


An abbot resigns his mitre to follow Father Liguori. First 
general chapter. Liberality of the gentlemen of Pagani. 
The jubilee at Sarno. Missionary. Precious death of Father 
Sportelli. A beautiful flower on a barren rock. "The 
Glories of Mary." Other publications. Sad events. Letters. 

THE approbation of the institute made a great 
sensation in Rome. Every one admired the 
fervor and charity that reigned among the 
Fathers, and, in consequence, men eminent for 
sanctity and learning applied for admission to 
their body. Among these was an abbot who 
had rendered great service to the Congregation 
at Rome. Though Alphonsus had resolved 
never to admit to his Congregation any one 
who had lived in another, yet, in consideration 
of the distinguished merit of this applicant, 
and the aid he had given the Fathers with 
regard to the approbation, he readily received 
him. Released by a brief from the Order of 
which he had been chosen Abbot, he took the 
habit of a Redemptorist, and departed for Ciorani. 
In October, our saint held his first General 
Chapter. He invited all the members to accept 
the rules, and proceed to a formal election to the 
general offices. Though confirmed in perpetual 
rectorship by the Pope, he resigned his author 
ity, humbling himself, and begging pardon for all 


he had done amiss in the exercise of it. He 
then suggested a retreat of three days, and 
insisted that the vocals should vote for those 
whom they deemed before God best qualified to 
fill the respective offices, doing all he could to 
rid himself of the burden of the generalship. 
All joyfully accepted the rules, and renewed 
their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, 
with the oath of perseverance till death. 

Despite his precautions, our saint was unani 
mously elected Rector-Major. The other offices 
being filled, necessary regulations were estab 
lished for the novitiate and house of studies ; 
and the authors to be followed in belles-lettres, 
philosophy, and theology, were selected. The 
abbot was appointed professor of philosophy 
and theology, a post for which his vast erudition 
eminently qualified him. 

During the session of the Chapter, the heart of 
the holy founder was gladdened by the liberal 
ity of some gentlemen of Pagani. From the 
modesty and general good conduct of the young 
students, they had formed a flattering opinion of 
the institute, and earnestly entreated him to 
transfer them to Pagani, promising to contribute 
to the expense. All, including the bishops and 
the dean already mentioned, subscribed annual 
stipends, and manifested the greatest interest in 
the education of the students. 

Alphonsus opened the autumn mission, by 
preaching the jubilee at Sarno. Many pro 
fessional brigands placed their daggers, pistols, 
and bayonets with the Fathers, and embraced a 


Christian life. For ten years after the taverns 
were quite deserted. The bishop, wishing to 
try Alphonsus, whose toilet was poor as usual, 
said laughing : " Notwithstanding our wish to be 
economical, we will undertake the expense of 
having you shaved." Alphonsus presented him 
self to the barber with perfect indifference, 
although for eighteen years a razor had not 
touched his chin. Four times he underwent 
this operation : first, at Rome, when he pre 
sented himself to Clement XIII for examination; 
second, at Naples, when he was invited to the 
table of King Ferdinand IV ; third, when 
ordered by Mgr. Giannini ; and fourth, as we 
have just related. 

The clergy profited greatly by this mission, to 
the unbounded joy of the good bishop. Christian 
piety everywhere replaced idleness and licen 
tiousness, and the frequentation of the sacra 
ments became general among all classes. Accom 
panied by fourteen Fathers, he made a missionary 
tour through the whole diocese, and was every 
where blessed with the most signal success. 

While at Malfi, our saint heard of the precious 
death of Father Sportelli, his first companion. 
Though partially prepared for this melancholy 
communication, as the good Father had recently 
been suffering from an attack of apoplexy, he was 
nevertheless extremely afflicted. Some months 
previous, Sportelli had foretold the day and hour 
of his death, adding (he addressed a Father about 
to join Alphonsus) : " Kiss the hand of our Rector 
for me, and tell him to recommend my soul to 


Jesus Christ, when he shall hear of my death. 
He died as he had lived a saint, and God glorified 
him by miracles. Years after his death, his body 
was found incorrupt, and blood was drawn from 
his veins. Alphonsus himself endeavored to 
procure the beatification of this dearly loved son, 
and it is piously hoped that God will yet glorify 
his faithful servant by raising him on the altars 
of the Church. 

While laboring in the diocese of Malfi, Al 
phonsus gave a retreat to a convent of Carmelite 
nuns, whose piety and perfect regularity greatly 
edified him. He found it expedient to moderate 
their fervor, and to prescribe some relaxation of 
mind and body. The sanctity of these dear 
sisters filled him with admiration, and, poet as 
he was, he exclaimed with a burst of generous 
enthusiasm : " I did not expect to find so beauti 
ful a flower on the barren rock of Ripacandida." 

In the course of this year (1750), he published 
his useful and charming work, The Glories of 
Mary. It is incredible with what delight this 
beautiful book was received. It was speedily 
translated into every tongue of Europe, and has 
gone through numberless editions. 

About the same time, he wrote his Advice 
regarding a Religious Vocation, in which he shows 
that when God calls, his creatures must obey, 
and expatiates with the unction characteristic of 
all his works, on the excellence and advantages 
of the religious state. His Advice to Novices is 
a sequel to the former. He presented these 
admirable little works to all the novitiates in 


Naples, and they were everywhere received with 
gratitude and delight. " If I could only contribute 
to the perfection of one of those called to the 
religious state," said he, " I should be abundantly 
recompensed for my pains." 

As our saint was sometimes obliged to witness 
the spectacle of men who boasted of their 
knowledge of philosophy and theology, yet 
were incapable of writing their mother tongue 
correctly, he compiled for them an abridgment of 
the most essential rules of Italian Orthography. 
He even applied his prolific genius to the trouble 
some task of composing an elementary arithmetic 
for the use of the lay-brothers. So true is it 
that charity, when ardent and sincere, finds a 
thousand ways of being useful to others. 

Every thing had gone on wonderfully well, 
when a reverse came which changed the joy of 
the holy founder into bitterness. The abbot had 
gained the admiration of the students by his 
brilliant talents, and their affection by his edify 
ing conduct. He had been sent with twelve of 
the most talented to Pagani, and their progress 
under his able superintendence exceeded all 
expectation. The fervor of the poor abbot, 
however, proved somewhat evanescent. Accus 
tomed to command, he could not easily obey. 
The rule became too great a restraint on him, 
and he used his influence over the young men to 
inspire them with his disedifying sentiments. 
Father Mazzini gave him a friendly admonition, 
which was received with a bad grace. Alphonsus 
treated him with the utmost gentleness and sweet- 


ness, and even removed Father Mazzini against 
whom the abbot was greatly embittered, though 
without any cause. Finally, the students resolved 
themselves into two parties, and matters grew 
so bad that it became necessary to withdraw 
immediately the sower of discord from among the 

Yet the compassionate heart of the holy 
founder shrank from inflicting a public humilia 
tion on the hapless abbot. He merely invited 
him to Ciorani to give a retreat to some clerics 
who were preparing for holy orders. But 
belles-lettres seemed preferable in the eyes of the 
distinguished scholar, and he showed such 
discontent that the saint was obliged to tell him 
that, in case he would not obey, he was free to 
leave the Order. Doubtless it was the heart of 
Alphonsus, rather than his judgment, that per 
mitted the abbot to return to Nocera a little 
later and resume his lectures. Again, some 
were of Paul, and some of Apollo. The gentle 
saint was still unwilling to pain an aged man, 
and recalled him to Ciorani, but ostensibly for 
the purpose of establishing a house of the 
Congregation at Rome. 

The abbot, suspecting the real motive of his 
recall, dissembled his displeasure, and meanwhile 
sought to involve the students in his ruin. He 
proposed to them to join him in founding 
altogether a different establishment, and four, the 
flower of the rest, determined to follow him. 
Next day Alphonsus learned the worst, when 
these poor deluded youths presented themselves 


before him, with staves in hand and mantles on 
their arms, demanding a dispensation from their 
vows. The affectionate Father could not bear 
up against this. Falling prostrate before them, 
the tears gushing from his eyes, he besought 
them to avoid the snare laid for their virtue by 
one who had so basely abused the confidence 
reposed in him. He proposed a retreat of eight 
days, but all was useless. These unfilial youths 
turned their backs upon the best of Fathers, and, 
without even waiting for a dispensation, set out 
on their ill-starred journey. 

Circumstances now showed the protection a 
good God granted to his holy servant. To 
justify himself, the abbot had drawn up a 
memorial signed by these unfortunate young 
men, and addressed to the Pope, in which was 
stated every calumny his malignity could invent. 
Alphonsus the same morning had sent an order 
to the rector of Nocera to inform the abbot 
that he no longer belonged to the Congregation. 
The abbot had gone to take leave of the bishop, 
and the rector followed to deliver his message. 
In his astonishment, the culprit had not presence 
of mind to return to his room and remove his 
papers. The memorial which fully unmasked 
him was found open upon his table. 

At Naples, the unfortunate man was joined by 
the four students, and deceived a promising young 
priest, by saying that he had already established 
his Congregation at Rome, and that the Pope 
himself had signalized the four students as so 
many apostles destined to win the palm of 



martyrdom among the infidels. This done, the 
traitor abandoned his five victims, and proceeded 
alone to Rome. 

These sad events made a painful impression 
everywhere. A most respectable Father of the 
Order to which the abbot had belonged, paid 
Alphonsus a visit of condolence, but the latter 
merely said : " The abbot has made us weep 
to-day, but later on he will make you weep." 
This prophecy was fulfilled when he disturbed 
the whole Order by separating the abbeys of the 
kingdom of Naples from those of the Pontifical 
States, and causing himself to be declared per 
petual Abbot in Rome, and Commissary-General 
for life to the abbeys of the Papal States, and 
causing many annoyances to the convents in both 

Alphonsus attributed the discovery of the plot 
to St. Teresa, for it happened between the first 
and second Vespers of her feast. His affliction 
was tempered by the return of two of the young 
men, whom he received as a tender father, and 
to whom he ever after showed a special affection. 

"My dear children," said he, to the students 
on this occasion, " I earnestly recommend you 
never to keep your consciences closed, for, if 
these unfortunate youths who have gone out 
from us had manifested their temptations to 
their superiors, they would not be where they 
are now. Had they opened their hearts to those 
who hold the place of Christ in their regard and 
could not deceive them, this had not happened. 
During a temptation, never make a resolution, 


however praiseworthy it may seem, but go at 
once and discover all to your superior. When 
the temptation is upon us, we do not recognize 
that it comes from the devil. He conceals himself 
and puts upon our eyes treacherous spectacles, 
making us see things, not as they are, but as our 
passions represent them. The strongest tempta 
tions can never shake a soul that gives herself 
entirely to God." 

The abbot had introduced among the students 
a forced application to study which afflicted our 
saint, because it was detrimental to piety. Yet 
he always recommended the closest application 
to science, both to students and priests. " A 
laborer without science," said he, " though he be 
a man of prayer, is like a soldier without arms." 
He would add : Be wise, but be wise unto sobriety. 

These sad events caused a general discourage 
ment throughout the Congregation. To re 
animate his spiritual children, the saint addressed 
to all the houses the following circular : 

" To my brethren of the Congregation of the 
Most Holy Redeemer. Blessed be Jesus, Mary, 
Joseph, and Teresa : 

" My very dear brethren, you know I am not 
afflicted when God calls some among us to 
another life. As a creature of flesh and blood, 
I am touched by the loss of a dear son; but 
I am comforted because he has died in the 
Congregation, all the members of which I know 
will be saved. 

" Neither am I afflicted when persons leave us 


because of their faults; yea, I am consoled, 
seeing we are delivered from a sickly sheep thai 
would have infected all the others. Far less am 
I grieved at persecutions ; on the contrary, they 
inspire me with courage, because, if we serve 
God faithfully, we are certain God will not 
abandon us. What alarms me is to see among 
us persons who are negligent in obeying, and 
have little regard for the rule. 

" My brethren, some who were with us are 
now out of the Congregation. What will their 
end be ? I cannot tell. But of this I am certain 
they will live in continual trouble, and die 
without peace, for they have renounced their 

" They have left us that they may live more 
happily ; but the thought that they have left God 
to follow their own caprices, will never leave 
them one day s rest. In prayer they will be 
torn by remorse, and God knows where they 
will end. 

" I beseech you to avoid faults of delibera 
tion, especially those for which you have been 

" If correction lead the sinner to amend, the 
fault will be nothing. But if he will not amend, 
the devil will employ every artifice to make him 
lose his vocation : thus he causes the loss of 

" By the grace of God, wherever we go on a 
mission, we work wonders, and people say they 
never had such a mission before. Why ? Be 
cause we go by obedience, we go in poverty, we 


preach Christ crucified; each acquits himseli 
perfectly of the charge imposed upon him. * 
have been grieved to learn that some desire the 
more honorable employments, as preaching, 
instructing. But what fruit could he produce 
who preaches through pride? I have a horror 
of this. If ambition enter the Congregation, 
the missions will do little good, or, rather, none. 
" Your most affectionate Brother, 

" Of tJie Most Holy Redeemer? 


Alphonsus icsumes the missions. A new sorrow. Circular letter. 
The saint s reception at Naples. Illness. Another annoy- 
ance. Reaction. Extraordinary Conversions. The saint 
pleads his cause before the king. Insults. His sojourn in the 
capital. Prophecy. His moral theology. High opinion Pope 
Benedict XIV held of Alphonsus. Offer of the king. Miracle. 
Death of Father Cafaro. 

TOWARDS the end of autumn, Alphonsus re 
sumed the missions, and, as usual, with effects 
hardly short of miraculous ; but his heart was 
pierced by a new sorrow, occasioned by the 
departure of a Father whom he tenderly loved 
and who was most useful on the missions. 

Offended by a reasonable admonition of the 
Superior, he set off to join Alphonsus, believing 
he would give him satisfaction. On the road, re 
flection opened his eyes, and seeing that he was 
wrong, he had not courage to present himself to 
the saint, but directed his steps to his own house. 
All the efforts of Alphonsus and the rest to 
induce him to return, were unavailing. On this 
occasion Alphonsus again addressed a circular 
letter to his children, to make them still more 
fearful of the great disasters which pride is 
capable of producing in the souls of those who 
yield to its suggestions : 

" To the Fathers and Brothers of the Congre 
gation of the Most Holy Redeemer. 


" Live Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and Teresa ! 

" My dearly beloved Fathers and Brothers in 

" I beseech God to deliver us immediately from 
all haughty spirits who will not brook the least 
correction or humiliation. Whoever refuses to 
be as potter s clay under the feet of all, let him 
fly. Our Lord will be better pleased if there re 
main but two who are humble and mortified, 
than if there were a thousand imperfect. What 
are we doing in the Congregation, if we will not 
suffer something for the love of our dear Lord ? 
How dare we preach humility to the people, if 
we have a horror of humiliations? But as we 
are all so miserable, I command you, in prayer, 
in thankgiving, to beg daily of Jesus Christ to 
be able to bear contempt without losing peace 
and interior joy. The fervent will even pray to 
be despised for the love of Jesus. 

" I desire to impress this upon your hearts : 
never speak ill of your Superiors. Take account 
of your smallest faults, for these are the little 
foxes the devil uses to devastate our souls and 
render us careless about preserving our vocation. 
Let us recur continually to prayer, my dearest 
Brethren, otherwise we shall not succeed in 
any thing. 

" Your most affectionate Brother, 

" Of the Most Holy Redeemer: 

After the mission of 1757, our saint passed 
through Naples on his return home. He alighted 


at a small hospice given him by his Brother 
Hercules ; and the people, seeing his miserable 
dress, mistook him for a vagabond, and began to 
hoot and ridicule him. All this he was taking 
very good-humoredly, when a merchant, calling 
him by name, made the crowd understand that he 
was the brother of Don Hercules di Liguori. 
He had just lain down to rest when his brother 
came to visit him. Unwilling to disturb him, he 
withdrew and returned next morning ; but, finding 
he had not yet risen, he forced the door, fearing 
some accident. He found him extended upon 
his bed in a fainting fit. 

The nearest physicians were summoned, and 
they ordered that he should be immediately 
undressed. His body was found to be entirely 
covered with sackcloth. A copious bleeding 
restored his consciousness, and he complained 
bitterly to his brother for having permitted him 
to be undressed. Fatigued and exhausted as he 
was, he consented to preach to the students of 
the archiepiscopal seminary ; nor did he refuse 
to visit any monastery which asked his aid. 

This year a new annoyance disturbed Al- 
phonsus. The king, while hunting in the terri 
tory of Illiceto, inquired concerning the house of 
the missionaries, which he perceived at some 
distance. " It is the convent of the new Fathers," 
replied the cavalier in waiting, " and they have 
done tolerably well here, being heirs to sixty 
thousand ducats." " Ah, then," rejoined the 
king, " they are like the rest ; they have scarcely 
commenced when they endeavor to amass 


wealth." The chevalier had referred to the wL. 
of the late canon of Illiceto. 

Deceived by what he had heard, the king 
speedily let the court see that he had changed 
his opinion of Father Liguori s missionaries, and 
every one spoke of their avarice and ambition. 
The Fathers were greatly alarmed, but the holy 
founder reassured them. Full of confidence in 
God, he exclaimed : 

" The Lord will make our Congregation pros 
per, not by applause or the protection of princes, 
but by poverty, contempt, misery, and persecu 
tions. When have we seen the works of God 
begin with applause?" 

He had recourse as usual to our dear Lord, 
hoping to obtain mercy by prayer and penance, 
and exhorting the brethren to unite with him in 
these holy exercises. A reaction in his favor 
soon took place ; and it being left to Alphonsus 
himself to state the amount of revenue his Con 
gregation possessed, he did so with a candor 
that confirmed the king in the high opinion he 
had entertained of him. Nevertheless the min 
isters used their utmost endeavors to suppress 
the, Congregation, saying, among other things, 
that, far from consenting to the establishment of 
new Orders, they would gladly abolish some of 
those already in existence. Alphonsus did not 
lose courage. He said that the souls would be 
blessed who should defend his Congregation ; 
and he abandoned its interests to the protection 
Providence and the piety of the king. 

After Easter, 1752, he evangelized the territory 


of Gragnano, accompanied by twenty-two 
Fathers. Prodigies of grace occurred, espe 
cially among malefactors, many of whom deposit 
ed their daggers and pistols at the feet of the 
Blessed Virgin. One bandit, in the procession 
made for the purpose of erecting a Calvary, 
carried one of the crosses on his shoulders, weep 
ing so as to cause the people to shed tears of joy. 

Meanwhile, the Marquis Branconi invited our 
saint to proceed to Naples and plead his cause 
before the king. Accordingly, he presented 
himself at the palace, and informed his Majesty 
that for nineteen years he and his companions 
had been giving missions, chiefly in remote and 
abandoned villages, that thousands had been 
converted on his own royal domains, that they 
had given yearly over forty missions, that the 
archbishops of Conza and Salerno, and the 
bishops of Bovino and Nocera, seeing the good 
effected by the missionaries, had established 
houses of the institute in their respective dio 
ceses, and that the Sovereign Pontiff had ap 
proved the Congregation for the whole Church. 

As for acquiring riches, he showed the king 
how far he was from desiring the temporal 
aggrandizement of the Congregation : " I am 
persuaded," said he, " that whenever abundance 
reigns, the laborer will quit the axe and the 
spade, and take his ease. I seek only to procure 
a modest livelihood according to the intention of 
the Pope, and I beseech your Majesty to name a 
fixed revenue beyond which we may not go." 
He secured the influence of the queen, through 


the celebrated Jesuit, Father Pepi, and Mother 
Angela of Divine Love, who had once been his 
penitent. He visited the ministers, to urge upon 
them the importance of aiding to promote the 
salvation of the people. But on these occasions 
neither his well-known sanctity nor his illus 
trious birth always sufficed to protect him from 
insult. One minister listened to his passionate 
pleadings with marked incivility, and almost 
turned him out of doors, saying : " Do not talk 
nonsense to me; tell your stories to some old 
woman." The saint bowed his head and re 
mained silent. On another occasion, he said to 
a minister : " My Lord, I recommend to you the 
cause of Jesus Christ." " Jesus Christ has no 
cause in the royal chambers," was the contemp 
tuous rejoinder. 

His sojourn in the capital was a continual 
mission. He gave a retreat during which many 
hardened in sin yielded to grace, and hundreds 
of infidels abjured their errors. The Chinese 
college and several convents profited by his 
labors. When the negotiations approached a 
close, he had many masses said, and multiplied 
his penances, to force, as it were, the blessing of 
heaven. To the souls in purgatory, to St. 
Joseph and St. Teresa, he made special vows, 
and he wrote to many monasteries, begging 
prayers and novenas for his intention. 

Finally, the royal approbation was obtained, 
the king forbidding any increase of revenue, and 
allowing but the merest pittance for the sup 
port of each member. So many conditions and 


restrictions were placed in the decree, that it 
rather embarrassed the saint than helped him. 
Thus was partially fulfilled a prophecy he had 
made some years previous to Sister Mary Angela 
of Capua : " I believe that God will mortify my 
pride, and that this approbation will not be given 
until after my death." In reality the Congrega 
tion was not set on a proper footing till the next 
reign, and long after his soul had passed sweetly 
to heaven. 

Notwithstanding his grave and multiplied em 
barrassments, Alphonsus published, in 1753, his 
justly appreciated Moral Theology. At the 
request of his spiritual children, he had, in 1748, 
enriched Busembaum with notes, which they 
wished to have printed, to be more easy of 
reference. At a later period, he enlarged this 
work, and dedicated it to Benedict XIV, who 
gave it his approbation. 

This invaluable work, like every other that 
came from his pen, was the fruit of zeal for the 
glory of God and the salvation of souls. The 
images of Jesus and Mary were constantly before 
him, for he never handled his pen without in 
voking them. In short, it was seen even then, 
as the Pope himself prophesied, that Alphonsus 
was destined to be universally approved. Once 
when a celebrated Neapolitan ecclesiastic came 
to consult this learned Pope on a difficult cause, 
his Holiness would give no decision. " You 
have Father Liguori at Naples," said he ; " con 
sult him." Indeed this excellent Pontiff, whose 
erudition was a marvel, quoted our saint with 


approval, in his valuable work, De Synodo 

The king, more and more pleased with the 
great missionary, offered to endow the Congre 
gation with the estates of a once powerful body 
of monks, now dwindled away to the merest 
shadow of its former greatness, on conditions 
that seemed advantageous to all concerned. 
For grave reasons, the saint finally declined the 
flattering proposal, though deeply grateful for 
the favor his sovereign had shown him. 

In July, 1753, he accepted an invitation to give 
the Novena of the Feast of Mount Carmel, at 
Saragnano. The missionaries lodged in the 
house of one Doctor Mari. Twelve Fathers 
arrived on a Thursday at dinner time, and as 
they had not been expected, no preparations had 
been made for so large a party. " Put what you 
have on the table," said Alphonsus to the 
embarrassed host, " and God will supply what is 
wanting." And lo ! as the servants were carving 
in the kitchen, the meat became visibly larger*, 
and when the whole party was served, a con 
siderable quantity remained. Mari attested 
that the meat had been increased at least seven 
fold. In reply to his exclamations of astonish 
ment, the saint said : " In all embarrassments, let 
us have recourse to God, and never doubt his 

The autumn and winter of 1753 were fruitful 
in missions. Resina asked a mission, but Al 
phonsus refused, on account of its proximity to 
Naples. The people then applied to the king 


who commanded the saint to gratify them, and 
paid all expenses himself. The missionaries 
afterwards went to Persano, at the expense of 
his majesty, whose good heart delighted in 
affording means of grace to his subjects. The 
spiritual exercises were given in various religious 
houses, and were, as usual, signally blessed by 
God. Applications were sent from all quarters 
for the Fathers, and every diocese in the king 
dom wished to have a Redemptorist convent. 
But the holy founder was slow in answering 
these applications, not having a sufficient number 
of subjects. The king proposed to suppress 
certain convents, and give Alphonsus the re 
venues to found new establishments ; but he 
would never consent to any thing so detrimental 
to the ancient religious, whom such arrangements 
would affect. 

This year, the tender heart of our saint was 
again rent by the decease of a companion, at 
once his father and his son, Father Cafaro, his 
spiritual director. Prayer and mortification were 
the inseparable companions of this holy man. 
Untiring in his labors, he animated the other 
Fathers by his example to immolate themselves for 
God and for souls. How earnestly did not the 
sainted founder pray for the prolongation of his 
precious life ! What prayers did he not procure for 
the same end, both in his own houses and in many 
monasteries of virgins ! But the good God saw 
fit to grant him other blessings instead of this 
much-coveted boon, and he bowed profoundly 
beneath the divine hand that chastened him. 


His sentiments on this trying occasion found 
vent in a beautiful canticle on Conformity 
to the Divine Will, which he sovereignly loved 
and adored under the most distressing 


Circular letter. A foundation in the States of the Church. Re- 
treat at Ciorani. Discussion. Death of the Countess Liguori. 
Mission at Benevonto. Retreat to the Neapolitan students. 
To the servants. Other effects of the saint s zeal. New 

YEARS and sorrows had already begun to tell 
upon the once vigorous frame of our saint. 
Though scarcely fifty-six, his frequent infirmities 
hindered him from visiting his absent children 
as often as his paternal heart desired. In 1754, 
August 8, he addressed to all the houses the 
following circular : 

" Fathers and Brothers, it is not yet twenty- 
two years since our Congregation was formed, 
and but five have elapsed since its confirmation 
by the Holy See, therefore it ought not only to 
have preserved its first fervor, but also to have 
made progress. Many, I know, lead holy lives, 
but some are too easily discouraged. Yet God has 
called us into the Congregation to live as saints 
and if remissness succeeds to fervor, where will 
our poor Congregation be fifty years hence ? 

" Poor Jesus Christ ! if Thou art not loved in 
this Congregation which has received from thee 
so many special lights and graces, by whom wilt 
Thou be loved ? Now that I am already old and 


sickly, the day is near on which I must render 
up my account. I wish to be as useful as possi 
ble to you, and God knows how I love each one 
of you as my mother and my brethren. But it is 
not the will of God that I should imperil my 
salvation by an immoderate love for any one of 
you. We all commit faults ; but faults against 
obedience, poverty, humility, and brotherly 
charity, must not be established among us. I 
adhere to the promise I have made to God, 
never to yield to human respect, never to see my 
brethren fail in any important point, or in any 
manner hurtful to their neighbor, without reprov 
ing them. 

" You know that my greatest fault is too much 
condescension ; but I hope God will give me 
strength not to suffer those who will not amend 
who even justify their imperfections. I beseech 
you, who now hold offices in the Congregation, 
never to excuse those who, after faults, justify, 
instead of humbling, themselves. 

" I declare to you that I will accuse that 
superior at the tribunal of Jesus Christ, who, to 
avoid displeasing the imperfect, would wink at 
dangerous faults, and cause relaxation in the 
Congregation. I speak not of the past, but of 
the future ; if any one has committed a fault, I 
do not mean to reproach him. 

" I exhort you to value your vocation as the 
greatest favor God could bestow on you, after 
the benefit of creation and redemption. Thank 
God for it every day, and tremble lest you lose 
it. Do not allow the devil to deceive you each 


of us knows that a priest, in the Congregation, 
will save more souls in one year, than he would 
daring a whole lifetime out of it ; and. as regards 
personal advantage, a subject will gain more in 
one year by practising obedience than he would 
in ten years, living according to his own caprice. 
By the grace of God, the Congregation is now 
well provided with subjects full of fervor and 
talent. Our fame is spread throughout the 
kingdom, and even beyond it. We are asked for 
missions on all sides. But should we not be 
able to do all we desire in this respect, it would 
always be better to preserve regular observances 
with a few, than to see the Congregation increased 
by relaxed subjects. 

" Finally, my brethren, be persuaded that 
each of you is, after God, the single object of my 
love, and that for each of you I would willingly 
offer my blood and my life. Fear not to address 
yourselves to me in all your wants. Those who 
are at a distance can write. Do not fear to 
importune me ; the thought that you can trouble 
me either by speaking or writing, can come 
only from the devil. Believe me, the more 
confidence you show towards me, the more 
closely you will bind me to you. I leave every 
thing when my children require my assistance 
It is of more consequence to me to succor one 
of them, than to perform any other good work 
whatever. This is the good work God asks of 
me, especially while I am charged with the souls 
of others. 

" To conclude : let us love Jesus Christ. We, 


above all others, owe him this. Let us love a 
God who has died for love of us. Let us become 
saints, offering ourselves to him to do with us 
what He pleases. I bless and embrace you all 
in the heart of Jesus. Lose not the beautiful 
crowns I see prepared for all who live according 
to our rules, and die in our Congregation 

Although approved by the Pope, the G agre- 
gation had no house in the States of the Cl urch, 
tilLMgr. Pacca, Archbishop of Benevento, ap plied, 
in 1753, for one. To arrange this business, 
Alphonsus despatched Father Villani, and Mgr. 
Borgia offered to accompany him. 

The travellers experienced a special protection 
of divine Providence. Twice a thunderbolt fell 
at Mgr. Borgia s feet, without injuring him or 
his companion. The archbishop was so charmed 
with the results of the first labors of Villani, a 
retreat given to the students, that he went to 
Nocera to thank the holy founder ; and during 
this visit, declared that it was to him, after God, 
he would confide the interests of his diocese. 

During Passion- Week, our saint gave a retreat 
at Ciorani, on the invitation of Father Rossi. 
Priests and people crowded about the veteran 
missionary, till messengers had to be sent in 
different directions to warn them that there was 
no more room ; but they passed the night in the 
air, rather than give up all hope of hearing his 
voice. About this time a discussion too# place 
between Father Liguori and a Jansemst who 
had attacked his Moral Theology, and \vas not 


sparing of insulting personalities. But the sweet- 
ness and moderation with which Alphonsus met 
his adversary, drew upon him universal esteem. 

On the road to Benevento, whither he repaired 
to give a mission at the request of the archbishop, 
he stopped at Naples to visit his beloved mother, 
then in a dying state. Having quieted her 
conscience on several points, and entirely cured 
her of some scruples that tormented her, he 
heard her last confession, and administered the 
holy sacraments of Viaticum and Extreme 
Unction. For three days, he was unable to tear 
himself from this revered and cherished mother, 
consoling and animating her; but, as he could 
delay the mission no longer, he begged her 
parting benediction, and, consoled by her sancti 
ty, he set out for Benevento, happy to think she 
was about to die a death precious in the sight 
of the Lord, while she rejoiced that her son left 
her only to conquer souls for Jesus Christ, and 
bestow on others the blessings he had conferred 
on her. 

He opened the Benevento mission with twenty 
Fathers. A prelate who attended, afterwards 
wrote : " It is long since we have seen men so 
truly apostolic. One can form no idea of the 
effects they have produced ; but the arrival of 
Alphonsus awakened recollections that had long 
slumbered. The voice of the holy missionary 
was weakened by age and fatigue, but the sight 
of him was enough to soften and melt the hardest 
hearts. Benevento has been sanctified. The 
very malefactors have become models of piety. 


A general reformation of manners is the result 
c f his labors." 

The renown of this mission reached Rome, and 
Cardinal Orsini informed Alphonsus that the 
Pope had been so pleased with the good tidings, 
that he spoke to the Duke of Cerisan to obtain 
from the King of Naples an exequatur to the brief 
of approbation given to the Congregation. 

After this mission, to render priests more 
skilful in hearing confessions, the saint published 
his Moral Theology in Italian, adding three in 
teresting appendices. This work met with im 
mense circulation. The demand became so great 
outside of Italy, that he re-wrote it in Latin 
under the title of Homo Apostolicus. 

Business called him to Naples, February, 1756. 
Cardinal Sersales besought him to give the 
spiritual exercises to some students in a hall of 
the palace. But, instead of a few young men, 
the whole community assembled to hear him, 
and, with canons and other dignitaries, his 
audience swelled to a thousand. Even bishops 
attended, and pressed forward with the rest to 
kiss his hand, but he humbled himself interiorly, 
and endeavored to escape observation. 

The cardinal, admiring the miraculous effects 
of this retreat, insisted that he should preach to 
the diocesan students, at least, once a week. 
Directors of seminaries in the city and its environs 
made the same request, so that he often preached 
several times in one day. 

He did not forget the servants of the cardinal 
and of the seminaries, but, following the divine 


instinct which urged him to seek out the lowliest 
and most neglected, he assembled every one of 
them, and instructed them on the duties f their 
state. Henceforward, they were a comfort to 
their employers ; and, besides performing all their 
duties well, found time to pray and to approach 
the Sacraments. The cardinal wept tears of joy 
over this reformation. 

The convents, as usual, sought his assistance, 
and he never refused to instruct and console 
their cherished inmates, many of whom had once 
been his penitents. He greatly deplored the 
increase of vice consequent upon the reading of 
the infamous works of materialists and deists. 
To inspire the people with a horror of such pro 
ductions, he condemned from the pulpit all who 
sold such books, or kept them in their homes, as 
guilty of grave sin. To neutralize as much as 
possible the evil effects of these devices of Satan, 
he published his erudite Treatise in Defence of 
Religion and of the State, a work which was found 
particularly useful against the sophists, who un 
dertook to pervert the minds of the people and 
sap the foundations of their faith. This magni 
ficent treatise is an enduring monument of our 
saint s elegant style and profound learning. 


fhe queen-mother consults our saint. Stratagem. Work on the 
confessional. Criticisms. The circus at Amalfi. Earthquake. 
Nola. The Seminary. Bi-location. The saint loses his dear 
son Rossi. Miracle. Missions to Calabria. 

ALPHONSUS returned to Nocera in Holy Week, 
1756, but scarcely had he arrived, when he was 
summoned by the queen-mother, who desired to 
consult him on affairs of conscience. The court 
was then at Lauro. Here was also a monastery. 
The nuns, wishing to get a piece of his clothing, 
invited him to visit a beautiful reliquary in their 
church, and while he was giving it to them to 
kiss, one of the boarders cut off a large piece of 
his mantle. As it was cold in the evening, he 
spread his mantle on his bed; but finding it 
rather jagged, exclaimed to F. Galdieri who ac 
companied him : " This mantle is not mine ; is it 
yours?" "It is yours," returned the Father, 
but the nuns have been playing you a trick." 
" Yes," rejoined the saint, somewhat confused, 
I see why that little girl was always so near me ; 
but now it would require an old-clothes shop to 
mend it." Thefts of this nature were not in 
frequent wherever he went. 

In July, he was again in Naples endeavoring 
to obtain the exequatur of the Apostolic brief 
He had prayers and mortifications without 


number offered up for this intention. As usual, 
he had not a moment s rest. He published at this 
time his Method for a Confessor to exercise his 
Ministry well, in which he considers the Con 
fessor as father, physician, teacher, and judge. 
Such was the admiration this work excited, that 
it was said his Guardian Angel had specially as 
sisted him in its composition. In his Dictionary of 
Illustrious Men, Feller says of it : " It breathes a 
divine unction : all is moderation, gentleness, and 
that charity which seeks only the salvation of 

" What a precious book ! " exclaims the learned 
Jesuit Zaccharia, in his History of Literature: 
" Father Liguori follows a just, a reasonable 
method which smooths the way for the poor 

The name of Alphonsus was now celebrated. 
All the provinces of the kingdom, except 
Calabria, had been visited by the Congregation. 
An eminent physician offered to defray the ex 
penses of the Fathers to this distant region. 
While the missionaries labored successfully there, 
our saint, with fourteen companions, repaired to 
Amalfi. During this mission, every woman of 
bad character in the place was converted. The 
evening before he left, Father Liguori said in a 
sermon : " We have been much fatigued in 
laboring for you, but as soon as we go, a devil 
will come from the mountain to destroy the fruit 
of this mission. Beware! otherwise God will 
punish your reprehensible curiosity by an 


Next day, a buffalo was let loose for the amuse 
ment of the people ; but scarcely was the play 
begun when a violent shock frightened the whole 
town, and the terrified people ran from the ring 
to the church. The bishop received them, and 
as he recalled the prediction of the venerable 
Father Liguori, and the contempt they had shown 
for it, another shock was felt, so violent that the 
chandeliers were turned upside down. The 
prelate became alarmed, and ordered the priests 
to give absolution to all present. 

From Amain he passed to Nola, whither he 
was invited by the bishop to aid in reforming the 
episcopal seminary. Many of the young people 
had given themselves up to all kinds of irregu 
larities, discipline was unknown, and for several 
days he might as well have preached to the 
walls. The most awful truths of eternity became 
subjects of their ridicule, and not a few of the 
young wretches amused themselves by mimick 
ing the tones and gestures of the preacher. 

Though the bishop thought gentle means 
would do here, our saint knew that the case was 
a desperate one, and he warned the prelate that, 
by conniving at the evil by injudicious gentle 
ness, he risked his eternal salvation insinuating 
that bishops had been damned because of their 
seminaries. He continued to preach ; but it was 
not till the exercises were nearly over, that any 
fruit appeared. Then all were seized with a 
sudden terror. Four of the most turbulent fled, 
and the remainder became truly contrite. This 
unexpected result was attributed wholly to the 



prayers and mortifications of the saint. During 
his long life, Alphonsus continued to take a deep 
interest in this institution, and every year, sent 
his missionaries to give the retreat, if he could 
not go in person. 

When he had restored fervor in the seminary 
of Nola, he went to Cerreto. From the palace- 
gate, he was ushered into a hall which a servant 
was sweeping. " Please inform the bishop that I 
wish to have an audience," said the visitor. 
11 Wait till I finish this," was the rough reply. 
As the broom whisked about the corner into 
which our saint had shrunk, the menial con 
tinued : " Don t you see me ? Is there no possi 
bility of making you rise?" Alphonsus rose, and 
when the sweeping was finished, repeated his 

The bishop, on being informed that a poor rag 
ged man awaited him, sent to learn his name and 
business. But, when the noble name of Liguori 
was announced, the prelate, who happened to be in 
his dressing-gown, called out to one servant for 
his soutane, to another for his wig, and to a third 
for his pectoral cross, that he might receive such 
a guest in a becoming manner. The servant 
speedily hid himself. When compelled to appear, 
he threw himself at the feet of our saint. The 
bishop having asked an explanation, the poor 
man told, with tears, of the rudeness with which he 
had treated the great servant of God, Alphonsus 
laughing good-humoredly all the time. 

While our saint was staying at Naples this 
season, the following example of bi-location took* 


place. A woman whom he had reclaimed, used 
to come every Sunday for alms. Being told he 
had gone to the capital, she went to the Church 
and recommended herself to God. While pray 
ing, the saint called her to the sacristy and be 
stowed the usual dole, beseeching her to remain 
faithful to God. The woman then reproached 
the porter, saying, " How is it that people think 
you a saint, and yet you tell lies? Father Liguori 
is here ; he called me just now and gave me 
money ! " 

The pastor informed the rector, who, upon in 
quiry, found that the saint had been laboring in 
Naples, and giving alms and good counsel in 
Nocera at the same time. A similar miracle hap 
pened at Amain, where he was preaching in the 
Church and hearing confessions in the house, 

Other missions were asked for Calabria. Our 
saint supplied them, regretting that he could not 
go thither himself. On the 2d January, 1758, he 
went to Salerno with twenty companions. Of 
their mission, Mgr. Pinta wrote long after : " The 
conversions were innumerable and astonishing ; 
the benefits conferred, great and lasting. The 
aspect of the whole town was changed ; I myself 
owe the grace of being able to renounce the 
world, to the light I then received." It was 
everywhere said that, had the apostles themselves 
preached, greater effects could not have been 

r The consolation derived from this mission by 
the apostolic man was not unalloyed. During its 


course, he had to bewail the loss of Father 
Xavier Rossi, the support of the house of Ciorani. 
But if he were afflicted by this premature death, 
he had sweet comfort in knowing that his old 
and cherished companion had died a saint. De 
spite his failing health, Rossi had always been a 
model of regularity. His obedience and hu 
mility were quite wonderful, and such was his 
devotion to Jesus, in the Blessed Sacrament, that 
it was said that there was no veil between him 
and his Savior. He had to combat against a 
temper extremely passionate. When almost over 
powered by anger, he would struggle so vio 
lently against that passion that his face became 
yellow, and almost black. On several occasions, 
when it seemed impossible to resist it any longer, 
he ran into the stable and flung himself at the feet 
of the ass, humbling himself before the brute, un 
til he could rise perfectly calm. He was singu 
larly charitable ; and Alphonsus, who knew the 
generous tendencies of his compassionate heart, 
set no limits to his liberality. The memory of 
Xavier Rossi will always be held in benediction by 
the Congregation of which he was so admirable 
an ornament. 

During a visit made by Alphonsus to Naples, 
in Lent, the blood of the proto-martyr, St. Stephen, 
preserved in the monastery of St. Gaudioso, liqui 
fied in his presence, a miracle never before known 
to happen except on the feast of the martyr, or at 
the translation of his relics. 

His companion, Father Galdieri, being about to 
embark for Calabria, the saint said : " I wish you 


would go by land. Wait a little : in a few days 
some one will arrive who has travelled by land, 
and you can return on his mule." Galdieri 
obeyed, and all happened as the founder had 
said. The vessel in which he was to have sailed 
was wrecked, and all on board perished. 

The saint was considerably occupied with 
convents and monasteries, to which he always 
gave assistance when asked. One evening, hav 
ing returned from the nuns, he had his office to 
recite and some proof-sheets to correct, when a 
duchess sent for him in the greatest haste. " Tell 
the duchess," said he to the messenger, " I cannot 
go now. The duchess will recover, and I shall 
see her -grace to-morrow." The lady was 
perfectly cured. 

His extraordinary gifts made our saint the 
object of universal veneration, but he ever 
humbled himself more and more. Invited by 
the Provincia. of the Jesuits to dine at their 
house, the Fathers, being very anxious to have 
something that had been worn by him, remarked 
that his belt was completely worn out, and 
offered him a new one. Guessing their design, 
our saint smilingly fastened on the new cincture 
without removing the old one. 

Retreats and missions crowded upon our saint, 
as usual ; miracles and extraordinary favors were 
wrought wherever he appeared. At Amain, his 
face glowed like a live coal, as it reflected the sun 
beams that darted from our Lady s statue. 
Whilst thus favored, he published his beautiful 
Preparation for Death, a work that produced 


the effects of a gigantic mission throughout the 
whole kingdom. 

In 1758, also, the cardinals of the Propaganda 
asked the saint for apostolic men, to labor among 
the Nestorians, who had declared to Clement 
XIII their desire to be united to the Roman 
Church. He instantly consented, and wrote to 
the Fathers to inform them of the circumstance, 
and inquire who among them were desirous of 
gaining the crown in a work of such great diffi 
culty. Every one offered ; all being eager to 
give their lives for Jesus Christ. Thirty novices 
wrote letters in their own blood to signify to him 
their desire of suffering martyrdom in the cause. 
Their zeal filled the glowing heart of their 
Father with ineffable consolation and delight. 

In 1759, the Fathers, owing to a singular cir 
cumstance, were invited to Sicily. A swindling 
Neapolitan, knowing the veneration in which 
Father Liguori was held, wrote, in his name, to 
different dioceses, asking pecuniary aid. Large 
sums were sent him, twenty ducats of which fell 
into the hands of our Saint, sent by Mgr. 
Lucchese, bishop of Girgenti. Alphonsus wrote 
to thank him for his bounty, and thus the swindle 
was discovered, but the correspondence ended 
in the missionaries going to Sicily. 


Reformation of the Royal Hospital of Gaeta. New Publication. 
The Sicilian Mission. The True Spouse "of Christ. The 
Fishermen. The Fathers Wrecked. The Young Calabrian. 
His tragic end a fulfilment of Father Liguori s Prophecy. 

THERE was a royal hospital at Gaeta for female 
foundlings, which by mismanagement was re 
duced to a most miserable condition. The little 
one*, about four hundred in number, were con 
signed to the care of the more grown children, 
and as a necessary consequence of this unfortu 
nate arrangement, every thing about the place 
breathed misery and sin. The king, knowing the 
zeal of Alphonsus, charged him with the reform 
of this place, which had already been unsuccess 
fully attempted by several clergymen. 

Our saint shed tears of sorrow on hearing of 
the unnatural conduct of the mistresses of the 
institute, once founded by piety, and still liberally 
furnished with every thing necessary ; yet, no 
better than a stable for the body and a hell for 
the soul. He sent thither Fathers Mazzini, 
Fiocchi, and Gajano as the best qualified for this 
difficult undertaking, and after working, not for 
months, but for years, they succeeded : with the 
aid of four Sisters of St. Vincent, this wretched 
asylum was converted into a little paradise, to 
the delight of our saint and the great satisfaction 
of the king. 


Ever burning with zeal for souls, Alphonsus 
published (1759) The Great Means of Prayer, of 
which work he himself said, that, he wished to 
have means to place a copy in the hands of every 
human being; the neglect of prayer being the 
great cause of the ruin of those who are lost. 
This was quickly followed by a learned disserta 
tion entitled Of the Just Prohibition of Bad Books. 
The Marquis Tanucci was displeased that such a 
work had been published, and immediately sent 
his emissaries to seize all the copies. But his 
opposition only served the good cause. The 
book, previously little known, was now so eagerly 
sought, that the booksellers raised the price, and, 
to supply the increasing demand, secretly printed 
many copies. 

His next work was The Trite Spouse of Christ, 
published in Lent, 1760; an admirable book, full 
of sublime lessons on Christian virtues, by which 
all may profit, according to their respective 
states. This was soon followed by Reflections 
and Affections on the Passion of Jesus Christ, and 
that useful work known under the name of Selva, 
in which he treats of the sacerdotal dignity, gives 
directions regarding preaching, and the Sacra 
ment of Penance, and lays down the principal 
rules of that popular eloquence of which he was 
so perfect a master. Meanwhile, the powers of 
hell seemed to have raised every possible storm 
that could keep the Redemptorist Fathers from 
Girgenti. They had embarked under a cloudless 
sky, and were soon in sight of Palermo, but a 
furious storm threw back their vessel to the Gulf 


of Naples. They set out again, but were driven 
from Palermo into the straits of Nocedo. A 
third voyage was met by a third tempest, and 
they were dashed between Sardinia and Corsica, 
the vessel being so much damaged that the 
passengers were hopeless of ever landing. 

All this war of elements was seen in spirit by 
the holy Founder, who was heard to cry out, 
raising his tearful eyes to heaven : " My poor 
children ! my poor children ! " The tempest 
lasted twenty- four hours. On the third day, the 
vessel, with great difficulty, reached Baja ; their 
safety being an evident miracle wrought by the 
prayers of the saint. 

Alphonsus, like an old soldier who desires to 
die sword in hand, went to wage war against the 
enemies of God at Amain. The town was 
ravaged by an epidemic which defied every kind 
of treatment. A canon having procured an old 
shirt of Alphonsus, lent it to several of the 
stricken, and every one whom it touched re 
covered. Going to and from the church, the 
canons were obliged to escort him, to save him 
from the pressure of the crowd that thronged 
about him. 

The nuns of Conca entreated him to give them 
some instruction ; and, as he proceeded to that 
place by sea, several fishermen complained that 
the sea no longer supported them, and besought 
him to bless it. Scarcely had he complied, 
when the fish appeared in myriads, and they 
quickly loaded their fishing-crafts. 

At the Convent of St. Marcelina, he found one 


of the pupils, Catharine Spinelli, dangerously ill. 
" Catherine," said he, "do you wish to live, or 
die?" " To live!" said the girl. He made the 
sign of the cross over her, and said : " You will 
live, but you must become a saint." She was in 
stantly cured, and afterwards became a nun of 
eminent sanctity. 

Other retreats, missions, and miracles, were 
accomplished, and all the gifts of the apostles, 
" the first fruits of the Spirit" seemed revived in 
this great missionary. Inflamed with a desire 
of seeing priests perfect as to the fitting celebra 
tion of the holy mysteries, he published a work 
on the necessity of observing the holy rubrics, 
replete with salutary instruction on the disposi 
tions with which the Holy Sacrifice should be 

He published also in the epistolary form, a 
dissertation, on the manner of preaching Jesus 
Christ. " Puffed-up orators," said he, "give out 
but wind ; they think more of displaying their 
own eloquence than of glorifying Jesus Christ. 
If they escape hell, they will at least have to get 
rid of their inflation in purgatory." 

His sermons, possessing as they did, genuine 
eloquence, continued as usual to people the 
cloisters, and cause every Christian virtue to bud 
and blossom in the hearts of his hearers. Once, 
whilst preaching in the Church of the Holy 
Ghost, he suddenly exclaimed in a transport: 
" O, thou who enterest here, and dost flatter thy 
self that thou canst be saved in the world as well as 
in a convent, unhappy that thou art ! how far 


art thou wandering ! ere long thou shalt come to 
a deplorable end ! " At that moment, a young 
Calabrian entered the church who had long 
struggled against the inestimable grace of a 
religious vocation. He naturally applied to him 
self the words of the venerable preacher, yet, he 
dared to smile at the menace. Scarcely a month 
elapsed when he was killed by a musket-shot. 
When dying, he related to a friend the words, 
which Alphonsus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, 
had addressed him from the pulpit. 


Alphonsus as a Superior. Humility. Health. Preaching. 
Father de Meo s Sybils and Argonauts. Confessors. 
Example of a rigorist. Father Rizzi obliged to apologize for 
an indiscretion. Poverty and obedience. Instruction on 
various matter. Rules for a Superior. 

ALMOST seventy years had passed over the head 
of the greatest missionary of modern times, and 
he already believed himself close upon the end 
of his career. But it was the divine will to pre 
serve him many years yet, that in a higher 
sphere, he should glorify God by giving to the 
world a perfect model of a fervent and zealous 
bishop, as he had successively been a model to 
laymen, ecclesiastics and missionaries. Before 
we follow him into this exalted station, we will 
speak of him in his quality of Superior and 
Founder of a religious congregation. 

His first care was to inspire his brethren with 
his own burning zeal for the salvation of souls. 
" What have we to do in the world," he would 
often exclaim, " and why have we entered the 
Congregation, if not to sacrifice ourselves for the 
glory of God? We are His special children, 
and more than all others, we should be foremost 
in the ranks to fight His battles, since He gave 
His life for us. The love of Jesus Christ con 
strains us to love Him, to draw all to His love. 
I am ready to die with grief when I see a priest 


indifferent about any thing that concerns God s 
honor. Our employment is the same as that 
exercised by Our Divine Redeemer and His 
Apostles. Whoever is destitute of the Spirit of 
Jesus Christ, and the zeal of the Apostles is not 
fit for this ministry." 

The next virtue he required was humility : 
" Humility," said he, " makes us respected by 
the people ; it attracts and gains sinners, how 
ever haughty and proud they may be." Having 
heard once that a missionary had shown a want 
of submission to a bishop, -he sent him directly 
to make the fullest apology for his conduct. He 
exacted from the Fathers great humility towards 
each other, and especially towards Superiors. 

Insubordination was a fault inexcusable in his 
eyes. He was willing that every difficulty the 
Superior might not have foreseen should be 
pointed out to him but simply, and without the 
least display of resistance. " If obedience be 
wanting," said he, " disorders and confusion will 
be the result." He cultivated in his brethren a 
spirit of mortification and a love of suffering, but 
he distinguished between effeminate delicacy and 
a reasonable care of health. " Health," said he, 
" is the capital of a missionary ; if that fails he is 
bankrupt." But he charged the Superior to 
attend to the health of each, and would allow no 
discontent to be expressed with reference to 
food, clothing, or lodging. 

He disliked undue familiarity with laymen, 
and considered idle discourses unworthy of the 
sacred ministry, He enjoined that in every 


sermon his Fathers should preach Christ Cruci 
fied, and required a simple, popular style, that 
every one could understand. " Jesus Christ," 
said he, " understood rhetoric better than we, 
yet, to be the more easily comprehended by the 
multitude, He chose ordinary comparisons." 
One Saturday, Father Alexander Meo, in 
preaching on the Blessed Virgin, introduced 
the Sybils and the Argonauts. ** What ! " he 
exclaimed, "is it thus they preach here?" He 
afterwards reproved the preacher severely, and 
condemned him to three day s silence, though 
he was a most exemplary man. 

From confessors he exacted great prudence 
and profound skill, as from their judgment there 
was no appeal. He was rigid in examining con 
fessors, and, when bishop, if he dM not find the 
candidate fully competent, he refused him faculties. 
He inculcated the greatest charity and gentle 
ness towards sinners. " Harshness," said he, 
" distinguishes the Jansenists, who do more harm 
than good, and certainly have not the spirit ot 
Jesus Christ, or of the apostolic men whom we 
honor on our altars. An energetic word is 
sometimes useful, but it must not be repulsive, 
and before the penitent withdraws, he must be 
calmed by kind words, that he may be full of 
hatred for his sin, but at the same time full of 
confidence in his confessor." On another occa 
sion he said : 

" If it happen that you feel overpowered by bad 
humor, leave the confessional immediately, be 
cause your irritability would cause some penitents 


to commit more sacrileges than others would make 
good confessions." 

He deemed it scandalous to show respect 01 
persons at the confessional, "Charity," said he, 
" but not partiality. Ladies of quality will make 
way for themselves. It is not the confessor s 
business to take care of them. He ought to be 
equally at the service of all, and receive every 
body with kindness and gentleness." 

To encourage the timid, and inspire all with a 
great desire to train souls in the confessional, he 
said : "The preacher sows, but the confessor 
gathers the harvest. The confessional is the 
touchstone of the true laborer. Whoever does 
not love the confessional, disregards souls, to 
whom is applied therein the blood of Jesus 
Christ. In the sacred tribunal, we gather fruit 
for ourselves and our penitents ; in the pulpit a 
breath of vanity may destroy the merit of our 

He insisted that his Father s should listen 
patiently to all, however wicked, and if they 
could not always give absolution, they would at 
least encourage the poor sinner, point out the 
means of amendment, and induce them to come 
back to God. He was especially delighted when 
he saw his young priests, zealous for abandoned 
souls. A learned and talented professor, fascinated 
by the doctrines of the rigorists, was deprived of 
the faculty of hearing confession by the saint, 
who had vainly employed every other means of 
correcting him. He haughtily demanded his 
dispensation. "My son," said Alphonsus, "i 


you abandon the Congregation because you per 
sist in your erroneous opinions, you will suffer 
awiul consequences." The words were verified. 
Tne poor man was attacked with a cancer in the 
face, after he left, and in an agony of despair, he 
ran about the streets uttering piteous cries. 
When near death, he begged with tears to be 
reinstated in the Congregation, and in consider 
ation of his condition, his prayer was granted. 

To inspire his sons with a true sense of humility, 
he would say : " Humility is necessary in the 
mission, in the house, at all times and in all places, 
if we would please God. I beseech God to 
destroy our Congregation the moment the spirit 
of pride predominates in it." One day, a Father 
chanced to say, " On my honor." This was a grave 
fault in the eyes of the saint. At the next con 
ference, he continually repeated, " On my honor." 
" Our honor," said he, " is to be despised and 
vilified to become like Jesus Christ, the re 
proach of men, and the outcast of the people. 
This is all the honor we can claim." 

He never approved of indiscreet zeal. Father 
Ricci, having written to a bishop with whom the 
people were greatly dissatisfied, to remind him 
of his duty, the saint wrote to the superior: 
"Tell Father Ricci, he has done wrong. He 
acted through zeal, but he forgot that we are 
forbidden to meddle with things out of the 
confessional which may cause embarrassment to 
others. Let him say three Ave Marias as a 
penance, and when his Lordship comes to the 
house, he will go to him privately and throw 


himself at his feet, confessing his indiscretion 
and asking forgiveness." 

Poverty and obedience he looked upon, as tfie 
foundations of the Congregation. Yet, he did 
not wish to have poverty practised to such a 
degree as would be contrary to decency. One 
day, he noticed on a young cleric a pair of shoes 
greatly worn. He began to cast such looks from 
the shoes to the superior, that the latter readily 
understood his meaning. If he saw any superior 
negligent in procuring for the subjects what was 
necessary, urged by a holy zeal, he reprimanded 
and even chastised him for it. He was particu 
larly displeased when he found superiors in 
dulgent to themselves and stingy with others. 
" Oh," he exclaimed, " how many superiors will 
be damned for having violated the vow of poverty, 
and ruined charity and the common life." 

Some of the Fathers thought common cloth 
not durable enough for mantellas, and that the 
houses would gain by purchasing a better 
material. " It is we," he answered, " and not the 
houses, that have made a vow of poverty ; it is 
we, not the houses, that must take the conse 
quences of the vow. Common cloth humbles and 
abases, and that is what is required by poverty." 

To inspire his children with a high idea of 
their vocation, he used to say that vocation and 
predestination were the same thing, and that 
having been chosen by God to form part of a 
rising congregation was a grace, which of itself, 
required in us a great degree of holiness. " We 
must, therefore," he would add, pray that the 


Almighty may cause us to understand the value 
of this grace, for should we fail to correspond to 
so holy a vocation, our eternal happiness would 
be risked. God has chosen us to be coadjutors 
of His Blessed Son, and to rescue souls from the 
grasp of the devil." 

" We should be most grateful to God," said he, 
"for having taken us from the world into his 
own house, where the truths of faith are con 
stantly put before our minds by meditation, 
spiritual reading, pious discourses and good 
example. All these things are great helps to us 
in difficult positions ; whereas, those who are in 
the world, being constantly occupied with the 
things of the world, have few good ideas, and 
many depraved ones, which cause them to fall in 
slight temptations." 

When God called any of his children to 
heaven, the saint felt mingled joy and sadness. 
If he wept for the loss of a fellow-laborer, he 
rejoiced at the translation of a saint. Therefore, 
he ordained,, that whenever death visited his 
houses, general recreation should take the place 
of mourning. 

He instructed all not to be satisfied with 
ordinary holiness. " If we do not aim very 
high," said he, " we shall not easily succeed in 
reaching the end God has appointed for us. 
" If a reverse of fortune befel the parents of 
any of them, he sympathized with their distress, 
and did not fail to relieve them, despite his great 
poverty. Some of the fathers judged such 
charity excessive, but our saint replied : " Charity 


never fails into excess, and God repays all that is 
given in His name." 

The heart of the most tender father could not 
feel greater love for his children than Alphonsus 
did for the students. " We are their Fathers," 
said he, " and the Congregation is their mother. 
They are the hope of the Congregation, because 
one day they will replace us, Since they have 
left their parents to give themselves to God, it is 
right they should be treated with the greatest 

He did not like to see them eager to study 
what is unnecessary. " True knowledge," said 
he, " consists in knowing Jesus Christ. Of what 
use is knowledge to us if its end is not to seek 
God ? We must study, it is true, but our sole 
aim ought to be to please God, otherwise we 
may have to expiate the fault by a long purga 
tory." To inspire his students and novices with 
fidelity, he was wont to say : " Vocation and per 
severance are two distinct graces ; God may 
give us the former in the midst of our infidelities, 
but we must labor for the grace of perseverance." 
He required of the novices, humility, obedience 
and openness of heart ; and when he found these 
dispositions, he felt sure there was nothing to 
fear. With regard to the novices who became 
sick, his maxim was that if they were patient and 
pious, they drew innumerable graces on the Con 
gregation. When a fervent novice was on the 
point of death, he was not distressed, but if a 
novice wished to leave on this account, he 
granted leave with pain. " If the doctors and 


remedies we have here," said he, " cannot restore 
their health, they will not recover in their 
parents house. If God wills their death, it is 
better they should die in the Congregation than 
amid the snares of the world." 

We will conclude this chapter by transcrib 
ing the wise rules Alphonsus laid down for 
superiors, and by which he guided himself, there 
by becoming a perfect superior : 

1. A superior ought to lead an exemplary life, 
for if he does not practice what he teaches, his 
government will be useless or dangerous. 

2. The superior should constantly labor for 
God, and be persuaded that he will often meet 

vith ingratitude from man. 

3. A superior who is too severe, makes the sub 
jects imperfect and deceitful, because they will 
let only through servile fear. 

4. Pride makes a superior odious to all ; it hin 
ders his own sanctification and that of his sub 
jects, as well as the preservation of order in the 

5. The superior should possess heroic patience. 
He must bear all kinds of labor, fatigue, and 
contradictions, and always appear calm, and be 
affable towards all. 

6. The superior should give every one a re 
ception full of charity and affection, and be all to 
all on every occasion. 

7. The superior should show the same love for 
all, and assist all alike in their spiritual and tem 
poral wants. 

. The superior who does not overcome his 


antipathies, is hasty in his judgments and com 
mits many faults. 

9. The superior ought not to be so pre 
sumptuous as to govern by his own light, only; 
he always needs prayer and counsel. 

10. The superior should provide for the 
spiritual and temporal wants of his subjects, and 
relieve them with all the care of a father and a 

1 1 . The superior ought to be vigilant as to ob 
servance of the rule ; he must therefore, inquire 
into everything with great exactitude. 

12. The superior must not judge things hastily, 
but weigh them well, and inquire and reflect, 
before giving any decision. 

13. The superior should punish offences 
against the rule, but must first give repeated 
warnings, which should always be accompanied 
by charity. 

14. The superior ought to be firm with the 
incorrigible, and take care to prevent the conta 
gion of bad example. 

15. The superior must be just, exemplary, 
prudent, affable and vigilant, if he would not 
undergo a terrible judgment at the tribunal of 


The Congregation thirty years after its foundation. Saintly mem 
bers. The vacant See of St. Agatha. Father Liguori selected 
to fill it. He declines the honor. His intense love for his 
Congregation. A command from Rome. "The voice of the 
Pope is the voice of God. Terrible agitation of the Saint. 
His heroic obedience. He prophesies that he will return to 
die among his brethren. Touching meeting of the Saint and 
F. Fatigati. The episcopal ring and cross. The Saint at 

THE reputation which the Congregation had 
gained was a subject of consolation to the holy 
Founder, but its zeal and fervor filled up the 
measure of his joy. The rule was everywhere 
in full force ; the love of holy poverty was uni 
versal; resistance and excuses were unknown; 
even the intentions of superiors were held in 

The old were models for the young, and the 
young excited the emulation of the old. His 
children died saintly deaths; Father Sportelli 
and Brother Gerard are still invoked by devout 
clients with no small profit. 

Such was the Congregation thirty years after 
its foundation, when God saw fit to deprive it of 
its head. 

The episcopal see of St. Agatha, had become 
vacant, and the succession to it was solicited by 
at least sixty candidates, among whom were 


bishops, and even archbishops. Clement XIII, 
embarrassed by the number of competitors, con 
sulted the cardinals, and Cardinal Spinelli gave 
advice to chose a man whose merits surpassed 
those of all the rest, and proposed Father 
Liguori, who, from the lustre of his origin, science, 
and sanctity, enjoyed an esteem as general as it 
was well merited. 

The news of the Pontiffs decision was hailed 
with unqualified delight. Several distinguished 
persons who had known the saint in Naples, con* 
gratulated his Holiness on having raised a saint 
and a scholar to the mitre. 

But little did our humble Father Liguori 
suspect what was going on in his regard. One 
day he remarked to Mgr. Borgia, that one of 
the greatest graces he had ever received, was 
that of having escaped the peril of being bishop ; 
" a peril," he said, " he should have had some 
difficulty in avoiding had he remained with his 
family." Just then a courier arrived bearing 
letters which announced to him his election to 
the bishopric of St. Agatha. 

Father Liguori was thunderstruck ; he could 
not speak. His sons hastened to his room and 
found him silent, agitated, and bathed in tears. 
He, however, became calm, feeling sure that his 
refusal would end the matter, and that the 
election was a mere mark of esteem the Pope 
wished to confer upon him. He remembered 
how easily he had got rid of the crozier 
of Palerno. 

He wrote to thank the Pope for his goodness, 


but enlarged on his own incapacity, his great 
age, his habitual infirmity, the vow he had made 
never to accept any dignity, and the scandal his 
acceptance would give the Congregation. When 
the courier was gone, Alphonsus said to Father 
Corsano : " This storm has cost me an hour and 
five ducats," alluding to the money he had given 
the messenger ; he then added that he would not 
give the Congregation for all the kingdoms of 
the Grand Turk. 

At the same time he wrote to every influential 
ecclesiastic he was acquainted with, insisting 
particularly on the vow that should retain him 
among his companions, and bringing forward 
every other reason that could be adduced by a 
man determined not to accept. Bishop Borgia 
in answer to one of these letters brought him a 
confidential communication from Cardinal Spi- 
nelli ; stating that the Pope wished him to accept 
the bishopric immediately, to relieve him of his 
embarrassment, but that he should be at liberty 
to renounce it afterwards. The saint was in 
consternation at this. Persuaded that there was 
now no hope but in God, he made his brethren 
pray that the Lord would deign to exempt him 
from a punishment he deserved for his sins. He 
sought prayers on all sides, and redoubled his 
penances, neglecting no means of averting what 
he considered the heaviest of crosses. 

He remained balancing between hope and fear, 
often repeating : " May the holy will of God be 
done." "If the courier comes," said he to the 
Fathers, " do not let me see him ; he would seem 


to me like an executioner, axe in hand." At 
Rome, several distinguished persons interceded 
for him, dwelling- particularly on his advanced 
age, and his enfeebled frame ; and they had all 
but succeeded, when the Pope, without giving 
any reason, ordered the Cardinal-Auditor to 
expedite the letters of command, silencing all 
objections by simply saying : " / will it" 

Spinelli amazed at this sudden change, bowed 
his head saying : " God wills it. The voice of 
the Pope is the voice of God." Alphonsus 
awaited the result with extreme agitation of 
mind. When Fathers Ferrara and Mazzini after 
having made him recite an Ave Maria, made the 
worst known to him, he raised his eyes to heaven, 
bent his head in token of submission, and said 
with David ; " / was dtimb, because Thou hast done 
it ; it is the will of God ; God drives me out of 
the Congregation for my sins." Then turning 
towards the Fathers with an expression of 
unutterable tenderness, he said : " Do not for 
get me. Ah, must we separate, after having 
loved each other for thirty years ! " The Fathers 
said, to console him, that there were friends at 
Rome who would make the motives of his renun 
ciation prevail. " That is not possible," said the 
saint, " the Pope has declared his will in absolute 
terms, I must obey." At these words, he fell 
into convulsions, and for five hours remained 
speechless. When consciousness returned, he 
wrote to the Cardinal-Auditor and to the Nuncio, 
that he was ready to submit to the will of the 
Sovereign Pontiff. 



All Rome admired the humility of the Saint in 
refusing the bishopric, but his prompt obedience 
gave still greater edification. When Don Her 
cules heard that his brother had accepted the 
mitre, he rejoiced, and immediately offered his 
services. " My dear brother," replied the bishop- 
elect, " I have been so stunned by the command 
of the Pope, that I have lost my senses. I thank 
you for your offer of advancing money. I was 
about to inform the Pope of my poverty, in the 
hope that my indigence should plead in my favor ; 
but Cardinal Spinelli, who was to have done me 
this good office, has done just the contrary. You 
rejoice, I can only weep. Sleep and appetite have 
fled from me. A fever seized me this morning, 
and this evening it is not gone. I ask myself 
why is my old age to be afflicted by the painful 
labors of the episcopate, and why the Pope who 
never gives such commands, adopts a tone of 
such severity with me? To conclude, may the 
will of God be done ; He desires the sacrifice of 
my life, I submit to His will." 

It being cnstomary in Naples, that bishops 
should possess in the city, houses suitable to their 
dignity, Alphonsus wrote to his brother : " As 
regards the house, 1 will not charge myself with 
much expense. One or two rooms on the first 
floor will be enough to receive the people who 
may wish to speak to me." To the lay brother 
who was to act as major-domo in this magnificent 
establishment, he wrote : " Four straw chairs 
will suffice. If I have accepted the bishopric out 
of obedience, I must follow the example of 


saintly bishops: do not speak to me about a 
carnage or livery. What good will it do me to 
act the great lord in Naples?" Bishops Borgia 
and Volpe, and his director Father Villani, 
having shown him the necessity of his having a 
carriage, he consented, and wrote to his brother: 
" Since I must have a carriage, I wish to learn 
first, whether my predecessor has not left one, 
because I should get such a one much cheaper. 
I shall make such a short stay in Naples, that 1 
shall not need to buy a carriage and mules at 
once ; I can use the carriage of the Cordeliers 
during my visit." 

The heroic effort Father Liguori made to obey 
the Holy Father, brought on a fever so violent 
that his life was despaired of. One thing alone 
consoled him : it was the hope of re-entering the 
Congregation. " I believe," he said, " that after 
the divine wrath is appeased, the Pope will com 
passionate my sorrows, and choose a more 
worthy successor for Mgr. Danza. Then he will 
send me back, to die within these very walls 
which I am now compelled to leave." 

The illness of the saint afflicted the Holy 
Father, who was obliged in consequence to defer 
his journey. Don Hercules, hearing of his 
dangerous condition, hastened to Nocera, bring 
ing one of the first physicians of Naples. When 
interrogated as to his state, the holy invalid 
replied : " I am under the hand of God." Several 
of his religious hastened to visit him. On seeing 
them, he wept and said : " You have come to 
expel me from the Congregation." When Don 


Hercules endeavored to console him, he cut him 
short saying : " I must accomplish the divine 

The submission of Father Liguori to the will 
of the Pope caused great joy at St. Agatha, but 
the news of his serious illness spread consterna 
tion among the inhabitants. In union with their 
clergy, they offered up prayers for his restora 
tion. Public supplications were also offered to 
God in all the houses of the Congregation, that 
God would spare him who had been so long their 
cherished Father. 

As his mind became calm, his body regained 
its strength. On Easter day he resolved to go to 
his bishopric. He set out for Naples in a miser 
able conveyance, accompanied by Father Villani. 
On the Saturday before his departure, he had 
preached, according to his custom, in honor of 
Holy Mary. On leaving Nocera, he begged all 
present not to forget him in their prayers, that 
the Lord Jesus and His Blessed Mother might 
aid him to bear his heavy burden. " Do not 
grieve, my brethren," he added, "because I am 
going away ; I promise to return here to end my 

He stopped a few moments at the house of the 
Garganas, a family greatly devoted to him. " I 
go to Rome," said he, " feeling sure that repre 
sentations which were powerless at a distance, 
will be favorably heard when I am on the spot. 
The Holy Father will let me die among my 
brethren when he sees this miserable carcase of 


At Naples, being obliged to pay his respects to 
the ministers and magistrates, and beset at home 
by crowds who came to compliment him, he was 
literally miserable. " Recommend tne very par 
ticularly to Jesus Christ, and tell the rest to join 
you," he wrote to Father Mazzini, " for if I do 
not lose my senses now 1 shall never lose them. 
Unhappy that I am ! I left the world in my 
youth, and in my old age I am obliged to return 
to it." 

Very touching was the meeting between our 
saint and F. Fatigati. Some years before, having 
heard that this friend was going to be elected 
bishop, he said to him impressingly : " Father, do 
not accept the episcopate ; if you do, you will be 
damned." When they met, they were mutually 
silent; they wept together, the features of 
Alphonsus showing the bitterness of his heart, 
while those of Fatigati were eloquent of the com 
passion he felt for his friend. 

In Father Liguori, the poor religious was more 
conspicuous than the bishop. His episcopal ring 
cost a few carlins ; it was adorned with a bit of 
glass ; the brilliants in his pectoral cross were 
false. " Oh, what a heavy cross you bring me ! " 
he cried out to the jeweller, " so heavy alas, that 
I know nothing more overwhelming." 

He set out for Rome, accompanied by Father 
Villani, April 19. At Cisterna, he visited Cardinal 
Spinelli. " My lord," said he, " you have not 
acted fairly towards me." His eminence re 
lated all that had passed at Rome, and urged him 
to take up his cross courageously, adding : " My 


lord, be of good courage, for God has certainly 
called you to this bishopric." 

His first visit, on arriving at Rome, was to the 
Tomb of St. Peter. For over an hour, he re 
mained before the altar in an ecstasy of devotion. 
All Rome seemed preposessed in his favor. The 
pious workers wished him to make their house 
his home, and the Prince of Piombino placed his 
palace and carriage at his disposal. The latter 
was accepted on account of his age and infirmities. 
" I have no quality which in the least fits me for 
a bishop," said he, to the Abb6 Bruni who visited 
him, " I submit because the Pope commands, and 
God wills that I should obey His Holiness." 
" I have come to Rome," said he, to Abb6 Troppi, 
41 to let the Pope see that I am but a machine out 
of order." 

He excused himself courteously from most of 
the invitations he received. The Fathers of the 
Mission having invited him to dinner, he said : 
" Please give my dinner to the poor of Jesus 
Christ for me, that he may show me his holy will 
distinctly while I am in Rome." 

Cardinal Orsini who had invited several dis 
tinguished persons to meet him, would take no 
excuse. He was told he must put on a court- 
dress, but he presented himself in the habit of his 
Order, saying : " I have come as I was, your 
Eminence, and I know you are ashamed of me." 
Well," returned the cardinal, smiling, " my wish 
is that you should shame me," and heartily em 
bracing him, he led him to his cabinet. 

Receiving and returning mere visits of cere- 


mony was irksome work to our saint. " My 
sojourn in Rome," wrote he to Count Hercules, 
" seems like a thousand years. O how I long to 
be free from all their tiresome ceremonials." 
As the Pope was at Civita Vecchia, he resolved 
to visit the holy House at Loretto. Father 
Villani tried to dissuade him from this additional 
fatigue. " My good mother Mary will strengthen 
me," he replied. " Nothing will hurt me if I 
have the satisfaction of visiting the house in 
which the Eternal Word became man for me." 

This journey was a real pilgrimage. He com 
menced before daybreak a long meditation. This 
was followed by the canonical hours, a visit to the 
Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin, the 
Rosary and Litany. He then made his servants 
recite the Rosary with uncovered heads. He 
said many prayers for the souls in purgatory, 
and filled up the remaining time in singing pious 
hymns and in holy converse with his companions. 

Every day he celebrated Mass, making a long 
preparation and a still longer thanksgiving. 
Other spiritual exercises he undertook during the 
evening, and, on arriving at the inn, he said 
Matins and Lauds for the next day. His atten 
dants were humility and poverty. He ate at the 
same table with the drivers and servants, as if he 
were one of them. 

During the three weeks of his stay at Loretto, 
he experienced ineffable consolation. It is here 
he would rapturously exclaim, that the Word was 
made flesh! Here Mary held Him in her arms! 
During the twenty-one nights he never went to 


bed, as was testified by his servant who watched 
him through the crevices of his door. 

The pilgrims crowded around the saintly man, 
ami he relieved them spiritually and corporally, 
as their respective necessities required. The 
days he passed at this holy place were days of 
intense spiritual joy ; and it may be said that, 
when he withdrew, he left his heart behind him. 

A heavy rain fell the night after his departure, 
and next morning, leaving Marino in a boat, the 
saint fell into the swollen Tarni, and disappeared 
in the midst of its waters. The servant threw 
himself into the stream and succeeded in saving 
him, almost miraculously. Mgr. Acqua, Bishop 
of Spoleto, being informed of the approach of 
his saintly colleague, sent his carriage to meet 
him. This prelate was then confined to bed, and 
in great mental anguish regarding the state of 
his diocese. He opened his heart to one whose 
writings he admired so much, telling him of all 
his trials. Our saint consoled the holy bishop 
who passed most of the night with him, blessing 
God for being permitted to converse with a man 
so filled with the divine spirit. 

Alphonsus reached Rome just as his Holiness 
had returned from Civita Vecchia. He im 
mediately went to do homage to Christ s Vicar ; 
as he bent to his feet, the Pope raised him up, 
and, embracing him, made him sit beside him. A 
second time the holy man prostrated himself be 
fore him, begging with tears to be exempted from 
a charge for which his age, his infirmities, and 
his incapacity, rendered him unfit. 


" Obedience," answered the Pope, "enables 
one to work miracles. Trust in God, and He will 
assist you." He then questioned him upon the 
state of Naples, both in its political and its 
spiritual relations, and for an hour and a half 
they continued to converse. 

When visiting the Cardinal-Secretary, he would 
have remained in the ante-chamber till all who 
had asked audiences were satisfied. But a 
bishop who happened to know him came in, and 
immediately informed the gentleman-usher who 
had taken him for a beggar. 

The Pope conferred with him on many affairs 
of importance to the Church, and spoke of him 
with the greatest admiration, so that it was 
rumored he would be made cardinal. In one of 
these interviews, the conversation turned on 
frequent communion ; and Alphonsus mentioned 
that he had been opposed at Naples on that sub 
ject by several ecclesiastics more rigorous than 
devout. The Pope charged him to refute his 
adversaries. Our saint therefore published a 
treatise on the subject, which the Holy Father 
received with great satisfaction. 

When he was asked what treatise he would be 
examined on, he left it to their own choice ; but 
as the examiners insisted that he should name 
some, he named De Mutuo and De Legibus. On 
the eve of the examination, the thought of the 
burden about to be imposed on him brought on 
a sick headache which deprived him of rest and 
appetite. One of the questions proposed was: 
" Is it lawful to wish for the episcopate ? 


Alphonsus begged the questioner to raise his 
voice a little, whereupon Cardinal Gallo provoked 
a smile from the Pontiff and the assistants, by re 
marking : " Holy Father, he does not hear 
because he does not want to hear." 

When, at the conclusion, a cardinal suggested 
that he should return thanks to the Pope, he 
feigned not to understand him. The suggestion 
being repeated, he said : " Most Holy Father, 
since you have deigned to elevate me to the epis 
copate, pray God that I may not lose my soul." 

On the 2oth of June, he was consecrated in 
the Minerva by Cardinal Rossi, assisted by two 
bishops. That was the saddest day he ever saw. 
He confessed that he had had two great battles 
in life : one when he had to struggle against the 
tenderness of a father who clasped him tightly 
in his arms ; the other, when he was forced to be 
consecrated bishop. " Then," said he, " I was 
terrified to think of the burden to be imposed on 
me, and the account I was one day to give of it 
to God." 

Some one hinting that if he wished to wear a 
calotte at the altar, he must obtain a brief: " A 
fine proposition truly," he exclaimed, " so I must 
apply for the privilege of showing less respect to 
Jesus Christ !" 

The Fathers, fearing for the Congregation after 
his departure, besought the Pope to allow him to 
remain Rector-Major of the institute. This favor 
the Holy Father, after some demur, granted with 
great kindness, saying to Father Villani : " I 
desire that your Congregation should prosper, 


and be supplied with subjects ; nor do I intend 
it should suffer any harm from the elevation of 
its founder, for the good it has effected in the 
Church and in the kingdom of Naples is a great 
consolation to me." This helped to alleviate the 
sorrow of Alphonsus who had believed himself 
cast out of the Congregation for his sins. 

The Holy Father desired the new bishop to 
come to a private audience on six or seven oc 
casions. At his last visit, he loaded him with 
kindness and seemed unable to separate from 
him. He recommended himself and the Church 
to his prayers, and in his turn Alphonsus be 
sought him not to forget before God the poor 
bishop of St. Agatha and his diocese. The good 
Clement XIII gave him his bulls gratuitously, 
and the Secretary of the Consistory defrayed all 
his other expenses. 

Before leaving the Eternal City, the bishop 
went to Frascati to take leave of the Prince of 
Piombino who had testified the greatest respect 
and veneration for his person. He always 
dressed in the habit of the Congregation, wearing 
the rosary at his girdle, and a broad-brimmed 
hat. A person of high rank once said to him : 
" In retaining the habit of your institute, you 
have given a most edifying example here." In 
short, such was his life at Rome, that the Pope, 
with supernatural discernment and the spirit of 
prophecy, exclaimed : " On the death of Bishop 
Liguori we shall have to honor another saint in 
the Church." 


Bishop Liguori leaves Rome. In Naples again. The priest of 
Arienzo. The equipage of the saint. His shoe-buckles. At 
Nocera. His intense grief. His entrance into his diocese. 
Green pears. The new Bishop will not give sumptuous repasts. 
His Rule of Life. His circumspectness regarding women 
of ill repute. Meals. 

ON the 2 ist of June, after celebrating Mass at 
the altar of St. Aloysius at the Gesu, Bishop 
Liguori left Rome. Poverty continued to be his 
inseparable companion. Though a bishop, he 
ate with the drivers, and would allow no distinc 
tion to be made in his favor. He reached Naples 
on the 25th. The first nobility of the capital 
hastened to compliment him. He visited the 
regents of the young King Ferdinand, and was 
invited to the royal table. To a minister, the 
Marquis of Marco, he said : " I go into a diocese 
somewhat in disorder, and each one will wish to 
justify his conduct. I pray God they may be 
really able to do so ; but I entreat you to regard 
the honor of Qrod and the welfare of souls." " Do 
not be distressed," rejoined the minister, "and 
if you require the king s support, be assured you 
will obtain it." In drives through the city, he 
ordered the coachmen never to seek precedence, 
but to give way on all occasions, even to a groom. 
The religious of the principal convents invited 
him to their churches, but he was able to gratify 


only a few of them. With the concurrence of 
the cardinal, he gave the sacrament of Confir 
mation to a daughter of his cousin, Francisco 
Cavaliere, in the chapel of the Cavaliere palace. 

Among other visitors came a priest of Arienzo, 
all curled and perfumed, whose buckles covered 
his shoes. " My son," said the bishop, " these 
buckles are not becoming to a priest, and that 
head-dress does not at all suit you. If you act 
thus, who should be an example to the people, 
what will men of the world do?" This correc 
tion was taken in good part and produced 

Cardinal Sersale received our saint with the 
tenderest proofs of friendship, and said, smiling : 
" You are caught at last." " Obedience has so 
willed it," returned the bishop. " But you have 
assumed the livery of a cardinal?" continued his 
Eminence, looking at his equipage. " It was not 
I who ordered it, but Hercules," was the reply. 
He wished it to be of a dingy ash-color, but the 
count had it made crimson on a blue ground ! 
Looking on his shoe-buckles, the cardinal pro 
ceeded : " These buckles are superb ; you have 
no doubt bought them at Rome at a dear rate ? " 
The mean little iron buckles had not cost five 

He arrived at Nocera on a Saturday, and 
preached, according to custom, on the Blessed 
Virgin. His audience melted into tears. The 
Fathers, knowing that many visitors would crowd 
around him, gave him a commodious room with 
a cell adjoining. One evening, passing before 


his old sleeping-place, he exclaimed : " O my 
cell ! formerly it was my consolation to see thee, 
now it is my affliction! " He was so overcome 
that he could not refrain from weeping. 

" My brethren," said he with the utmost ten 
derness, as he took leave of the Fathers, " do not 
forget me. I go into exile far from my dear 
Congregation." He could say no more, for sobs 
choked his utterance his emotion was extreme. 

As the burning heats of summer still continued, 
the doctors of Nocera advised him to defer his 
journey ; but considering that a good shepherd 
gives his life for his sheep, he set out immediately, 
saying : " A bishop should never think of his 
own life, but should sacrifice himself for the souls 
confided to him." They also counselled him to 
reside some time at Arienzo, on account of the 
comfortable house and salubrious air he \vould 
have found there ; but he would rest only at St. 
Agatha, the place where God had fixed his 

Crowds lined the roads as he entered his 
diocese, on Sunday, July 11, eager to receive 
his first benediction, and he was welcomed with 
such demonstrations of affection that he wept 
with emotion. His entry into his episcopal 
city was a complete ovation. The peals of 
cannon and the acclamations of a joyous people 
rent the air, and the streets were so thronged as 
to be almost impassable. Affected by the pious 
eagerness of his new children to participate in 
his first benediction, he descended from his 
carriage, entered the parish church, and after a 


short act of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, 
comforted them by a simple pathetic discourse. 

He was received by the regular and secular 
clergy, and a number of distinguished inhabitants 
of the town and diocese. The canons, discover 
ing that he had no hat or green cap, presented 
that which was placed on the tomb of the late 
bishop. After the Blessed Sacrament had been 
exposed, he prostrated himself for a long time 
with his face on the ground which he bathed 
with tears. When the Te Deum was chanted he 
descended from the throne, and delivered an 
exhortation in which his love and zeal were 
equally shown forth. The assistants shed tears of 
joy, and thanked God for having given them such a 
pastor. " We have a saintly bishop we have a 
saint among us," was repeated on all sides by 
his flock as they left the church ; so wonderful 
was the impression made by the sight of his 
poverty and humility, and the words of his 
burning zeal. 

During his first sermon he had been attacked 
by an obstinate fit of coughing, upon which one 
of the canons jocosely remarked that it would 
soon be necessary to elect a new vicar-capitular, 
as Monsignore would not be able to stand an 
other similar attack. This speech being related 
to Alphonsus, he jestingly retorted : " The canon 
does not know that green pears fall more easily 
than ripe ones." Shortly after, this ecclesiastic, 
then in the prime of life and in vigorous health, 
died suddenly. 

This evening (Sunday July n) he returned 


quantities of provisions sent him by the wealthier 
people of the town ; giving money to the ser 
vants, and expressing gratitude for their kind 
ness. Later in the week, the Provincial of the 
Dominicans sent him several choice dishes, but 
he declined all. The Conventual Fathers sent 
him a basket of little cheeses, with a quantity of 
sweetmeats and wax tapers. He took one of 
the cheeses and sent back all the rest. The 
secretary in consideration of Count Hercules and 
several distinguished guests, having provided an 
elegant repast, " God forgive you," said the holy 
prelate, " what have you done ? I have not 
come here to give sumptuous suppers ; I do not 
wish to treat you harshly, but let me have no 
more of this extravagance. When poor people 
are starving, it does not become us to make such 
good cheer." 

His austerities, far from abating, became more 
severe than ever. He chose the plainest and 
most inconvenient room for himself, and even 
the very first night of his arrival did not retire 
to his empty paillasse on boards, till he had 
severely disciplined himself. 

Finding the kitchen garden destitute of trees 
and vegetables, he ordered a brother to plant a 
number, as if it were spring. The brother obeyed 
cheerfully, though not without representing that 
it was not the proper season. Every one was 
surprised to see that all throve wonderfully well. 

His rule of life was this : As soon as he arose, 
he took a severe discipline. Then followed half 
an hour s meditation with the household, the 


grand vicar alone being free to absent himself. 
The canonical hours recited, he prepared for 
mass, which being over, he heard a mass of 
thanksgiving. He next gave audience to all who 
desired it, and to relieve them of the tedium of 
the ante-chamber, he desired his servant to usher 
in immediately every person, however poor. 
Pastors, vicars, and confessors could always 
enter unannounced. " These are my privileged 
ones," said he, "they must not suffer any res 
traint." Should no audience be asked, he began 
to compose or dictate, for, so avaricious was he 
of his time, that he could not bear to lose a 

The furniture of his room was plain and scanty, 
the chief decorations being the crucifix and a 
picture of Our Lady of Good Counsel. People 
soon learned that he was unwilling to waste time. 
If after hearing what they had to say and giving 
counsel, they did not retire, he would say : 
" Now then, let us not lose time," or, " Recom 
mend me to Jesus and Mary." If dealing with 
people whom he could not with propriety dismiss, 
the constraint he suffered was sometimes depicted 
on his countenance. 

If ever he had to reprimand women of loose 
behavior, he wished to have some member of his 
household present. When he went to the 
Church, he wrapped his right hand in his hand 
kerchief, and held the left in the opening of his 
cassock. Should a women offer to kiss his hand, 
he would say: " Kiss the habit, that will suffice, 
my child." 


As bishop, our saint presided at high mass, 
vespers and the canonical hours no indispo 
sition hindered him ; he was known to officiate 
when seized by fever, and when from the effects 
of the painful remedies applied to his distempers, 
he trembled from head to foot. 

During meals, each of his household read in 
turn, generally from the life of St. Charles 
Borromeo. The time he passed at dinner and 
recreation did not exceed an hour and a half. At 
dessert, he conversed with the grand-vicar on the 
affairs of the diocese, or on some point of devo 
tion, or received those who had not been able to 
speak to him in the morning, especially if they 
were poor, or messengers. After dinner he took 
some rest ; twenty minutes or half an hour sufficed 
for him. He never neglected to say before lying 
down the Five Psalms in honor of the Name ol 
Mary, a devotion he had practised from his youth. 
He was so particular in turning his time to good 
account, that he often studied, instead of taking 
this little siesta, which he needed so much. 


The Lives of the Saints. Pious exercises. The prelate s house 
hold. The diocese in a lamentable condition. Extraordinary 
zeal of the saint. His last tooth extracted. He officiates 
pontifically. Sad events. Mildness of the saint. His Firm 
ness. Funeral of an excommunicated man. 

OUR holy bishop attached great importance to 
the reading of the Lives of the Saints. " The ex 
ample of the saints," said he, " encourages us and 
excites us to do good." He never omitted to 
employ half an hour each day in this exercise, as 
he had done in the Congregation. He liked 
above all to study the lives of sainted prelates, 
among others, the Lives of the Venerable 
Bartholomew of the martyrs, of St. Francis de 
Sales, and of Mgr. Cavalieri, Bishop of Troia, 
his maternal uncle. 

On feast days, and especially in Lent, he in 
structed the children and taught them the 
catechism. He was too ardent a lover of God 
and man to be unmindful of the works of mercy. 
He visited the poor and sick every evening. He 
was particularly attentive to ecclesiastics who 
might be unwell, regarding it as an indispensable 
duty to comfort them. 

At half-past five, the bell rang for the visit to 
the Blessed Sacrament, and he daily discoursed 
to the people for half an hour, to inspire them 
with sentiments of faith and love towards Jesus 


in this mystery. On these occasions, he intro 
duced hymns full of piety and unction, giving out 
the tone himself and singing with the people. A 
doctor warned him that this weakened his chest, 
but he replied : " I must make the people like 
these hymns to disgust them with dangerous 

In the evening he gave audience again, and 
distributed alms, then said matins and lauds, 
followed by half an hour s meditation with the 
lay-brother. In winter he worked till nine or 
ten, but in summer he assembled his household 
early, for rosary, litany, examen, acts of faith 
hope and charity. All who happened to be in 
his house had to assist at these devotions ; even 
prelates,, princes, and great lords were not ex 
empt. Supper was next served, after \vhich the 
bishop conversed a while with the grand-vicar 
and others, on affairs of his diocese. When all 
had retired, the saint resumed his literary occu 
pations or continued in prayer. For a long time 
he took no supper but a glass of water, and 
Father Buonapane attested that he regularly 
employed sixteen hours a day in prayer, study, 
and work. 

The family of the prelate included a priest 
who filled the offices of secretary, steward, and 
almoner, one servant, a watchman who did the 
work of groom and cook, besides the vicar- 
general and Brother Antony. 

The servants were obliged to assist at Mass 
daily, and to approach the sacrament every fort 
night. Gaming was forbidden them, public 


houses still more strictly ; in a word, he desired 
that the members of his household should be 
irreproachable. Regarding their moral conduct, 
he was extremely exact. He made it a rule 
never to receive a servant who was not married, 
and who had not his wife at St. Agatha. He in 
cessantly reflected on that maxim of the Apostle : 
" He who knows not how to govern his own 
house, is not fit to rule the church of God." 

Alphonsus found the diocese in a lamentable 
condition. On the Sunday after his arrival, he 
began the spiritual exercises for the clergy, and 
on the evening of the same day, he opened a 
mission for the people. This sanctified St. 
Agatha: the sacraments were frequented, the 
Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Virgin became 
objects of great devotion, and every evening saw 
the church filled with fervent worshippers. 

Every one was surprised to see a man laden 
with years and infirmities subject himself to such 
incessant labor. " We prayed God to send us a 
good bishop," said a dean, " and he has heard 
us, but Monsignore will kill himself." The grand- 
vicar was reproached for allowing a bishop who 
had cost his flock so many prayers and tears, to 
shorten his days by excess of work. And his 
confessor was appealed to, to moderate the zeal 
of this saintly penitent, whose love allowed him 
no repose. 

As often happened to him before, he began to 
suffer such violent pain from toothache that he 
could take no rest. Some suggested that a 
Neapolitan dentist should be sent for, but he 


would not hear of it : " Have we not a barber?" 
he asked. " Let us be patient ; God wills that I 
should employ the people of my own diocese." 
The barber having been drinking all night was 
unable to present himself till morning. The 
secretary advancing to hold him, he pressed his 
crucifix to his lips saying : " What better sup 
port can I have than He who suffered such pain 
for me?" He bore the extraction without the 
least word of complaint. He had now only one 
tooth, and as that troubled him considerably, he 
determined to relinquish it, but it was removed 
only with the greatest difficulty. " Oh," he ex 
claimed, "how firmly it was fixed in!" Then 
turning to the barber, he said, gaily : " Signor, 
for the future you will have no more of my 

Mgr. Liguori celebrated pontifically at St. 
Agatha for the first time, on the Feast of the 
Annunciation, the title of his cathedral. He 
obtained of the Pope a plenary indulgence for 
all who should be present, or visit the cathedral 
on that day, on the usual conditions. From 
morning till night, the cathedral was thronged. 
He attained the same favor for his episcopal 
visitations. He was greatly consoled by the 
success of his first labors, yet there was a gloomy 
side to the picture: "I am well," he wrote to 
the Fathers of Nocera, " and thanks to God, our 
labors are fruitful." But he wrote to Father 
Villani : " I am full of anxiety for my church, the 
spouse which God has given me." 

The saint had not yet been able to convert all. 


To a canon who for many years had given scandal, 
he showed unalterable meekness. Throwing 
himself at his feet, he presented the crucifix, and 
said with tears : " My son, if you will not obey 
me as your bishop, be converted for the sake of 
Jesus Christ, who died for you and for me." 

But the unhappy man was insensible to every 
thing except the gratification of his sinful passions. 
Alphonsus sent several good people to reason 
with him, but without the least success. Seeing 
that meekness and gentleness only hardened him 
in sin, the saint threatened to recur to the royal 
authority. This so exasperated the culprit that 
he almost used personal violence towards the 

Mildness was equally unsuccessful with a 
beneficiary at Majano. Hearing that the mother 
of the object of his passion had appealed to 
Alphonsus, he fired against the door of the house, 
killing her, and wounding a little child. Al 
phonsus then applied to the king, and the two 
culprits were imprisoned. The relations of this 
person used all their influence to conciliate the 
bishop, who, in consequence, sought for some one 
to inform them of the impossibility of yielding to 
their unreasonable demands. Happening to call 
a chaplain who was vested in choir-dress, he said 
in an excited tone: " Take off these things." At 
these words the chaplain fainted and fell at his 
feet. Our saint quickly understood the cause of 
his terror. Being engaged in evil courses, he 
thought himself arrested like the other : " Two 
pigeons are taken with one snare," remarked 


Alphonsus ; " the finger of God is here let us 
pray Him to perfect what he has begun." This 
poor man became so sincere a penitent, that 
some years after, the bishop restored his faculties. 
One day, Alphonsus sent for the other delinquent, 
and said : " My dear canon, it is not you I punish 
but your sin. I love your soul, and cannot con 
sent that it should be lost. Remember that you 
have a soul, and that there is a God." The 
excessive sweetness, and tender paternal admoni 
tion of the saint, were unexpectedly rewarded. 
By degrees, the hard heart softened. He often 
sent him books of devotion and pictures of Jesus 
Christ and His Blessed Mother. Finally this 
poor sinner also became a sincere penitent. 

There was in the diocese a monastery of four 
religious whose conduct was any thing but 
regular. They laughed at the saint when cited 
before his episcopal court, and when he com 
plained to the provincial, the latter defended 
them. The saint was sterness itself on this oc 
casion : " Your Reverence," said he, " must then 
order your subjects out of my diocese, otherwise 
I shall call in the secular power." This menace 
had the desired effect. 

In the first mission, a woman whose life was 
openly scandalous was so touched by contrition 
that she publicly confessed her sins in church, and 
begged pardon of the people for the scandal she 
had given them. To the inexpressible sorrow 
of the bishop, she again fell into sin, and the ac 
complice being admonished by the saint, openly 
threatened him. The king was informed of it, 


which so provoked the wretch that he hired a 
troop of brigands and would have proceeded to 
extremity had not a gentleman dissuaded him. 
When the bishop heard of this, he said calmly : 
" He can assassinate me, if he likes ; well ! he will 
only give me the crown of martyrdom." The 
woman was finally banished the diocese. The 
gentleman being obliged to fly, afterwards stealth 
ily returned, and remained concealed in his own 
house. Our saint feigned ignorance of the matter, 
and in the end had the satisfaction of seeing his 
meekness and clemency triumph, for a day came 
when the wretched man cast himself at his 
bishop s feet, and consoled his loving heart by 
the sincerity of his repentance as much as he had 
formerly grieved him by his scandalous conduct. 

The sentiments inspired by these occurences 
were productive of salutary effects. A still more 
deplorable event cast a gloom over the people 
and their zealous bishop. A young liberated 
galley-slave was living in crime at St. Agatha, 
and being frequently reprimanded, despised all 
charitable warnings. At last the bishop referred 
the case to the magistrate. The hapless creature 
was seized in the house of his accomplice, and 
resisting the officers of justice, was killed on the 
spot. His corpse was placed on a mule, between 
four lighted torches, and carried out of the town 
to be thrown into a ditch. 

The blessing of heaven followed all the acts of 
the saint. Only God could have enabled him to 
change this field full of weeds into a flourishing 
garden of the church. 



Episcopal visitation. The Seminary. Judicious Regulations made 
by the saint. His rigid discipline. Examples. His severe but 
just censures of Genovesi. He prohibits the use of his work 
in the Seminary. 

ALPHONSUS began his episcopal visitation in the 
town and adjacent districts, " Why put off till 
to-morrow," said he, " that which can be cor 
rected to-day?" when some persons would 
dissuade him, " it is wrong to temporize with 
abuses." He convoked several distinguished 
ecclesiastics to advise with him regarding the 
interests of his diocese. The seminary was the 
principal object of the first visitation : " All my 
hope of sanctifying my diocese rests on the 
seminary," said he, " if that does not second me, 
all my trouble will be of no avail." 

He found it populous enough in scholars, but 
all were not according to his heart. He there 
fore ordered a general examination at which he 
assisted in person, and then gave vacation earlier 
than usual. 

Vacation over, he wrote to all the pupils tell 
ing them that if they wished to reenter the 
seminary, they should each address him a letter 
to that effect. Thus he was able to make his 
choice : the pupils were decimated, so to say ; a 
proceeding painful enough to the rejected sub- 


jects, though they soon appreciated ftie wisdom 
of their bishop, and were consoled more speedily 
than were their friends and relations. The 
seminary buildings wore rather the aspect of a 
prison, being confined, unhealthy, and subject to 
a very plague of troublesome insects in summer. 
He summoned architects from Naples to repair 
them, but instead of wasting much funds in 
repairing, he judged it best to have them pulled 
down, and replaced by the present spacious 

For the government of the seminary, he estab 
lished new rules, so full of wisdom and prudence 
that other bishops adopted them. Don Lucas 
who had been head of the institute for years was 
more than an octogenarian, and for that, and 
other reasons, little suited to so arduous an un 
dertaking ; but, unwilling to hurt the feelings of 
the poor old priest, he confirmed him as presi 
dent for life, and gave him a coadjutor in the 
person of Father Caputo, a Dominican, and mas 
ter in theology. Nothing was spared to procure 
good teachers. He abolished the custom of giv 
ing the office of prefect to a student, thinking 
that such an office required rather an exemplary 
priest. For porter he chose a diligent man, full 
of the fear of God. " If death enters us by the 
windows," said he, " it enters seminaries by 
doors." Alphonsus dismissed a porter for no 
other fault than having gone out without leave 
from the president. 

The autumn vacations were shortened, and re 
placed by innocent recreations and feasts. " A 


month of vacation," said he, "is enough to de 
stroy all that has been gained with much labor 
during the year; he found the terms reasonable, 
but he would not allow the scholars to be charged 
if they happened to be removed through sickness 
or any other cause ; and it was with difficulty 
that he consented to the seminary s receiving 
money for the month of vacation, though the 
custom was universal. 

He did not wish to see any distinction as to 
food, between the rector, the professors, and the 
young men, but ordained that all should fare 
equally well, and he himself frequently went to 
the college to examine whether good, nutritious 
food was served up, whether all was clean and 
neat, and he was very particular as to the quality 
of the bread and wine. On one of these occa 
sions, he found that the bread was not good. He 
immediately reprimanded the superior and house 
keeper, and ordered that all the bread in the 
house should be given away. Whenever he offi 
ciated pontifically, he provided sweetmeats for the 
seminarists. Indeed he sometimes sent his own 
cook to see that all was right in the kitchen de 
partment, but if the converse of " practise makes 
perfect " be true, the visit of Mgr. Liguori s cook 
could not much advance the benevolent object 
his master had in view in sending him to 

He ordained that printed books should be used, 
instead of dictating the lessons Italian poetry 
and romances were prohibited. Greek he did not 
deem necessary : " It is very good in the East," 


said he, " but for us in the West, Latin is what 
we want. My diocese requires good confes 
sors, who may aid me in saving the souls of 
the poor country people." However, he wished 
as much Greek to be studied as would enable 
the pupils to understand certain passages that 
occur in the philosophical and theological 

He did not admit day scholars, saying : " They 
serve as messengers for the seminarists, which is 
dangerous to the morals of both parties." He de 
lighted to listen to the rehearsals, and took part 
in debates and discussions. Once a month, theses 
were publicly maintained in theology and phi- 
osophy, and so anxious was he to be present at 
these exercises that when confined to bed by ill 
ness, he desired that the meetings should take 
place in his room. 

He interdicted the celebrated work of Geno- 
vesi, because it contains this passage : " Preserve 
the religion of your country, and combat for it. * 
To a priest who endeavored to explain this in a 
good sense, he wrote : " How can you put a 
good construction on the religion of your 
country/ when it is followed immediately by this 
blasphemy, even though it be false. According to 
this sophistry, we should become heathens if we 
went to China, and defend the Koran in order 
to obtain citizenship in Constantinople ! It is 
true the author elsewhere has put the Christian 
religion, but that is precisely what proves his 
bad faith, for why not say THE CATHOLIC 
RELIGION? And even with this change, we 


should still be in doubt, since he adds, even 
though that religion should be false." Genovesi 
was wounded by this prohibition, but Alphonsus 
severely called him to task, insted of withdraw 
ing his censures. 


Spiritual exercises of the Seminarists. Mortifications. Vigilance 
of the saint. The Seminary becomes a model. Liberality to 
poor students. Solicitude of the saint with reference to pen 
ance and the Holy Eucharist The elaborately-curled wig 
straightened out by the saint. Minute regulations. Neatness 
of the churches. Dangerous illness of the Bishop. Cases of 
conscience. Confraternities. Mental prayer. New Books. 

ALPHONSUS was not less zealous for the sanctifica- 
tion of the seminarists than for their instruction 
and comfort. He established a half hour s 
meditation daily after mass, and prescribed ex- 
amen in common, thrice a day, besides a visit to 
the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin, 
and the recital of the Rosary. Spiritual reading" 
was made at two meals daily. On Saturday 
before going to the church, he would preach to 
them on the beauty of virtue. He introduced 
the practice of novenas before the principal 
feasts, with some mortifications occasionally, 
recommending them to forego something at 
table, to eat kneeling, or sitting on the floor, 
bidding all the young people to fly effeminacy. 
He exhorted them strongly to cultivate humility, 
obedience, and fraternal charity. One day in 
each month was devoted to retreat, and an eight 
day s retreat preceded the opening of the 
classes after vacation. He composed hymns for 
them, set them to music, and employed a pro- 


fessor to teach them chanting. Nothing delight 
ed him more than to see these young sons of his 
joyous and contented. 

Under this judicious surveillance, the seminary 
became a .model. Charity dwelt amongst the 
pupils, and their proficiency soon became a 
marvel. The bishop was wont to call it the apple 
of his eye, and the jewel of his diocese. To 
preserve it in this flourishing state, he watched 
diligently to keep out every seed of corruption. 
Secret inspectors did duty here, and the rooms 
were frequently visited. No one was spared : a 
very orderly young man was surprised reading 
a Neapolitan poet. Alphonsus made him come 
down from rhetoric to the grammar class, in 
which he had to remain until a new course 

Several instances of his severity are recorded. 
He once dismissed the nephew of a professor, 
who asked the youth s pardon with tears, and 
because it was not granted, sent in his resignation. 
But it was only to the vicious that he was 
inflexible. "What charity! What! charity!" 
he would exclaim to those who interceded for 
the culprits, " to ruin all the rest through pity for 
one; that is not charity, but cruelty." 

Such of the students as were poor he gen 
erously aided, and when he found promising 
boys among the peasantry, he would receive 
them free, if they gave any signs of vocation. 
To those who objected to this most useful charity, 
he said : The seminaries were founded for the 
help of the churches ; pious persons who endowed 


these establishments could have no other intention 
than the good of the people, especially the poor. 
The saint made rules even for vacations, and 
sent copies of them to the respective pastors. 
No one was readmitted to the seminary who had 
not a certificate of good conduct from his priest. 

During the visitation, his principal care referred 
to the Sacraments of penance and the Holy 
Eucharist. He instructed the priests in the 
rubrics, and when he found them very ignorant 
on this subject, he sometimes suspended them 
for months. This necessary rigor caused the 
rubrics to be studied diligently. He examined 
several priests with regard to the confessional to 
see if he could with propriety continue their 
faculties, and when he found them incompetent, 
he withdrew the faculties, but in such a manner 
as to save their reputation. With regard to 
pastors who found pretexts for non-residence, he 
compelled them to resign their benefices or reside 
at their parishes. 

Seeing an elaborately-curled wig on a priest, 
he asked leave to examine it, and quickly 
straightened out the curls by plunging it into 
boiling water ; curls, perfumes and colored man 
tles he would not tolerate in ecclesiastics of any 
grade. In this matter he was particularly exact 
with the younger clergy. It was his greatest 
grief to find priests whose lives did not fully 
exemplify the holiness of their vocation. 

He made stringent regulations against pre 
cipitation in celebrating the holy mysteries. He 
ordered that, throughout his diocese, the children 


should be catechised on Sundays and Feasts, as 
in Lent. To remedy the gross ignorance of many, 
he made an abridgment of the Christian doc 
trine, and had it printed on a sheet for their 
convenience; besides, he ordained that these 
short instructions should be read from the altar 
every feast day at the first mass, which most of 
the poor were in the habit of attending. Nor 
would he have any one admitted to absolution 
at Paschal-tide without being examined on the 
principal points of Christian doctrine. Fearing 
that private baptism was not properly admin 
istered in dangerous cases, he examined the 
nurses himself, and instructed them if necessary. 
He caused all women of loose lives to be 
brought to him, and thus addressed them : " If 
you reform, you will find in me a father full of 
compassion and charity ; but if you remain 
obdurate, then shall I be to you a severe judge, 
who will never leave you at rest." A great 
many of this unfortunate class experienced his 
love and clemency, but with the incorrigible he 
kept his word, though his worst severity was 
always tempered with mercy. 

This Saint of the Blessed Sacrament was not 
less zealous even for the material churches, in 
regard to which he descended to the minutest 
particulars, such a careful dusting, cleansing of 
the holy-water stoops, and he insisted on their 
being kept with neatness and in good repair. 
Cleanliness and decency become God s house," 
said he ; " too much pains cannot be lavished on a 
place so worthy of respect ; and besides, how can 


people pray when their sight is painfully affected 
by what they see ! " 

He desired that images should not be kept 
which had become disfigured by time. " An im 
age is useless," said he, " when it fails to inspire 
devotion." On his visitations, he insisted that 
things capable of being repaired should be put 
in order, and rejected many albs, copes, chalices 
and missals, as unfit for use. Perfect cleanliness 
he required in all details, and as much magnifi 
cence as possible. When altar linens, canopies, 
&c., were wanting, he procured them, and he 
would have all tabernacles lined with silk. So 
exact, and even severe, was he with persons in 
clined to carelessness in this respect, that he 
declared that wherever these items were ne 
glected he would stop the revenues. 

As he continued his visitations everywhere, 
stirring the good spirit in the hearts of his clergy, 
and inspiring them with his own intense devotion 
to the Blessed Sacrament and Holy Mary, God 
proved him by various infirmities. At Airola 
he became so ill, that some clergy and other 
gentlemen proposed to send to Naples for a 
physician. " The doctors of Airola will suffice for 
me," said the saint; "have they not the same 
books as the Neapolitan doctors ? besides, my life 
is of no great value." During this illness, he 
communicated daily at a mass said in his own 
room, and never failed to make his customary 
meditations. On the ninth day, he inquired if 
there were any real danger, to which the physi 
cian, knowing his firmness, replied in the 


affirmative. The saint then sent for his secretary 
and begged him to administer Extreme Unction 
which he received with sublime devotion. Far 
from fearing death, he invoked it as the friend 
that was to deliver him from his exile and restore 
him to his true country. 

When visitors called, they never delayed very 
long; for they always found the illustrious 
patient meditating, or listening to the reading of 
some pious book. To the doctor, who feared 
he would injure himself by excessive applica 
tion, he replied : " It is that which relieves me : 
without it, my illness would be too painful." 
After the fifteenth day, his health began to 
improve, and he was scarcely convalescent 
when Ire resumed his labors for the good of his 

In all populous parishes he instituted " Cases 
of Morals " for the clergy, and in order that the 
same " case " should be discussed on the same 
day throughout the diocese, he had the list of 
cases for each week published in the calendar of 
the diocese. Notes for future reference were 
taken at all the conferences. He founded, besides, 
a school of moral theology attached to the 
cathedral which assembled every week in his 
palace, he himself presiding over each session 
as often as possible. This academy was a source 
of sweet consolation to the bishop, and among 
its members he generally sought out pastors. 
He founded societies for aiding to educate young 
men of ability too poor to maintain themselves in 
colleges ; also a society of priests at St. Agatha 


destined to give missions; confraternities for 
gentlemen, for the old as well as the young, 
boys and girls, rich and poor, in which all 
were instructed in their duties, and encouraged 
each other in virtue and goodness. One day, 
as he preached to the gentlemen s confra 
ternity, he suddenly fell into an ecstasy, in 
which his- countenance appeared so radiant 
with celestial glory as to illuminate the whole 

He introduced the practice of mental prayer 
in common in all the parishes. To facilitate this 
holy exercise, at the first mass a priest read at 
.intervals sentiments on the passion of Christ, the 
enormity of sin, and the joys of heaven. 

To remedy several disorders he had perceived 
in the course of his visitation, he composed his 
little book on the Mass, with acts of preparation 
and thanksgiving ; also, another practical book 
containing an easy and devout method of assist 
ing the sick and dying ; of both of these he 
distributed copies to all his priests. Finally, he 
summed up in one small volume all that is 
essential for the right administration of the 
Sacrament of Penance : this invaluable treatise 
was written in the vernacular, and entitled by the 
author, The Guide for the Confessors of Country 
People. " The words of this admirable book," 
said the celebrated Dominican, Sacco, "should 
be weighed, not counted ; for the author has 
included enormous treasures in few words." 
Many bishops testified their gratitude for this 
treatise, and it was speedily to be found in 


the hands of every ecclesiastic throughout the 

As long as our saint was bishop, he made a 
through visitation of his diocese every two 
years, each year doing half. He never once 
failed in this important point. 


The saint s mode of progress through his diocese. Apt rejoinder. 
He refuses a carriage. Compares himself to a vender of fowls 
Kindness to a servant. Accident. Miraculous cure. Magni 
ficent hospitality of the Prince of Riccia. "The saint tha f 
smooths our way to heaven." The little monk. The saint s 
kindness to children and young people. His vigilance. His 
charity to the poor. 

HUMILITY and charity were the companions of 
the bishop of St. Agatha, on his visitations as 
well as everywhere else. His suite consisted 
of himself, his vicar-general, his secretary, a 
canon of his cathedral, and a servant. Being 
very aged and infirm, a servant had to support 
him in the saddle, while the servant s son, a lad 
of twelve held the bridle of the ass upon which 
the great dignitary rode. As he never omitted 
his ordinary devotions, and never let any poor 
person pass by without consoling him, the burn 
ing heats of noon commonly overtook him, for 
which reason the grand-vicar excused himself 
from starting, and was satisfied to catch up with 
the cortege towards night. 

"Why do you travel on an ass, my lord?" 
said a distinguished gentleman of Frasso, who 
coveted the honor of the saint s presence in his 
house. " Some in chariots, and some on horses, 
but we in the name of the Lord," was the apt 
rejoinder of the smiling prelate. 


A gentlemen at Mignano once offered him his 
carriage. " I am really so comfortable on this 
poor beast," said he, "that it is wonderful." 
On another occasion of this kind he pointed to a 
vender of fowls who was passing, and asked : 
" Which of us is the more comfortable this man 
tramping on foot with his basket on his head, or 
I seated on this ass ? " One day he could not 
procure beasts enough for all his followers ; 
unwilling to inconvenience any one, he set out on 
foot, accompanied by his servant. As it was 
during the heats of August, the young man 
perspired profusely, and the saint, compassion 
ating him, made him remove part of his clothes, 
and insisted on carrying them himself, to the 
confusion of the poor servant. Once in going 
from Durasano to Frasso, being indisposed, he 
used a vehicle, to please the vicar. The coach 
man upset them twice. The second time, 
Alphonsus fell over the vicar and dislocated his 
wrist, but though in great pain he showed no 
sign of dissatisfaction, but continued his journey 
on a mule. Arrived at Frasso, he repaired to the 
church as if nothing had happened. He opened 
the visitation, and consoled and instructed the 
assembly with his usual gentleness and sweetness. 

A merchant who had forced him to alight that 
the surgeon might set his wrist, w r as rewarded 
for his charity by the miraculous cure of his son, 
who had been despaired of by all the physicians 
in that part of the country. 

At Airola, the prince of Riccia placed his 
palace at the disposal of the holy bishop, and he 


accepted the generous hospitality, only that he 
might not displease a nobleman who had so 
powerfully protected him. The steward had 
prepared him a magnificent bed in the apartment 
the prince usually occupied. Alphonsus praised 
the elegant apartments, but he chose to sleep in 
the room destined for his valet, saying : " I shall be 
best off here, because my chest suffers in large 
apartments where there is too much air." At 
Frasso, the grand vicar was much dissatisfied 
with the room prepared for him. While he was 
at church, Alphonsus had his own straw pallet 
moved into it, and made that dignitary sleep in 
the airy room destined for his own use. 

At Real- Vale, the room in which the good 
bishop slept had been for many years infested 
with beetles ; but, after his departure, it was 
entirely freed from these annoying insects. It 
was during his visitations especially, that he won 
the love, confidence and reverence of his people. 
His incessant labors in their behalf, the unvarying 
kindness and gentleness with which he received 
them, no less than the affecting spectacle of his 
heroic sanctity, were well calculated to inspire 
these sentiments in the breasts of a people 
naturally religious. Already was the voice of the 
people, in his regard, the voice of God: " Let us 
go," they would exclaim, as he entered their 
hamlets, " let us go to hear the saint that smoothes 
our way to heaven." Glorious testimony ! glori 
ous indeed from the mouths of infants and suck 
lings, from the mouths of the people, of the 
poor. Glorious testimony ! and gloriously con- 


firmed by the universal church : for the upright 
of heart have ever recognized in this sweet saint, 
Which of us has he not consoled, soothed, re-ani 
mated, in the weary pilgrimage from our exile to 
our home, our patria f Who, since his day, has 
led a life of holiness without the aid of the great 
doctor, strong and sweet in his teachings ? But 
well does Faber ask : Would that sweet spirit, St. 
Alphonsus, have been half as lax had he been but 
half as holy? Verily, to posterity as well as to 
contemporaries, will the admirable Founder of 
the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer be 
sweetly known as THE SAINT WHO SMOOTHES THE 


This sweet and childlike spirit loved to be 
surrounded with guileless little ones. He was 
wont to assemble the children after vespers, and 
teach them to love Jesus and Mary. He deemed 
it a privilege to prepare them himself for the holy 
sacrament of confirmation. Once a mother of 
Durazzano presented him a little cherub of five, 
already arrayed in the religious habit, beads, 
and cincture by reason of a vow she had made 
before his birth and besought the holy prelate 
to confirm him. But the saint though charmed 
with the precocious piety of the infant, declined 
to admit him to this sacrament. Next day the 
mother again presented him, but in the ordinary 
garb of a child. Among hundreds of children 
the dear saint recognized the babe and smiled 
upon him, saying : " Ah, there is my little monk." 
The pastor besought him to gratify the pious 


mother, whose eloquent pleadings had already 
touched the tender heart of him who could never 
bear to refuse what it was at all in his power to 
grant. Eager to have her boy confirmed by a 
saint, she feared Alphonsus would not live long 
enough to impose hands on her " little monk," if 
his confirmation was delayed ; hence her gentle 
pleadings backed by the intercession of the good 
pastor, and hence her innocent ruse to deceive 
the holy bishop, upon whose tender heart the 
guileless face of her angel-child had made such 
an indelible impression. 

When he learned that young people and 
children were in danger of death, he would visit 
them, and, if necessary, administer to them the 
sacrament of confirmation, lest otherwise they 
should be too long deprived of this powerful 
means of grace. Once when he went to con 
firm a sick youth named Pascal, he said : " Be 
glad and rejoice, my dear Pascal, for in three 
days you will go to paradise." The prophecy 
was fulfilled, contrary to all expectation, and 
Alphonsus was consoled, because he had 
" smoothed " for this poor boy, as for so many 
others, the strait and rough " paths that lead to 

He was extremely watchful over every ecclesi 
astic in his diocese. His priests found him 
indeed the tenderest of fathers. For any irregu 
larity, his usual remedy was to send the erring 
party to make a retreat of eight days in a house 
of his own Congregation or in the Congregation 
of the Mission. If he found good priests not well 


instructed in the rubrics, he would remedy the 
defect, but without reproaching them for it. He 
was, if possible, still more strict with religious 
priests, and, in case of their not correcting any 
serious defect he pointed out to them, he would 
appeal to their provincial, and even request their 
removal. The poor were the constant objects of 
his solicitude ; he inquired into their condition, and 
if he found such evil effects arising from poverty 
as might lead to crime, he would go to any 
expense to obviate them. He was particularly 
exact in seeing that the houses of the poor were 
supplied with a sufficient number of beds for 
each family. Widows and young women in 
danger, the^ sick, and especially the sick poor, 
shared his solicitude ; and food and medicines 
were daily furnished to the needy, all at his 
expense. In this respect his chanty knew 
nothing of worldly prudence ; he invariably 
returned from his rounds wholly destitute of 
money, and not lightly burdened with debts, 
which it was not always easy for him to meet, 
as he had reduced the visitation fees to almost 
nothing. He would never allow his servants to 
importune people for their perquisites, according 
to the custom of the time and place, recom 
mending them to be guided by that maxim of 
St. Francis de Sales: "Ask nothing, refuse 
nothing." Such charity and disinterestedness 
won him, everywhere, admiration, love and 
esteem, so that people revered him as a saint, 
and deemed themselves happy if they could 
procure a shred of his garments. Whatever 


had been sanctified by his use, they preserved 
as relics ; and God blessed their simple faith, 
for miraculous cures have been operated in 
favor of the sick, to whom these relics were 


Count He/cules Liguori marries a second time desiring to have 
heirs. Letters. The saint s present to the bride. The 
bridegroom s indignation. Preaching. Sermons. Ecstasy. 
Periodical missions. Rigor more hurtful than indulgence. 
Style. Extraordinary meekness of the saint. "Poor Jesus 
Christ." The Famine. Heroic Charity. 

IN 1763, Don Hercules Liguori, who had lost 
his first wife Donna Rachel Liguori some time 
previous, informed his brother of his determin 
ation to choose a second, asking his prayers and 
the celebration of many masses, that God might 
bless his second marriage with an heir, the late 
countess having brought him no children. The 
following is the reply of our saint : " I have this 
morning again celebrated mass for the lady 
Rachel, at the privileged altar. To-morrow and 
after, I hope to celebrate for your intention. 
I pray you to be very careful as to the person 
upon whom you fix your choice. She should 
be of the purest morals, without haughtiness and 
without vanity, and not too young, lest she should 

take advantage of your advanced age It 

would be better that your wife should be of 
humbler birth and less fortune, than that you 
should run the risk of some vexatious embar 
rassments. Declare your intention from the first 
to the object of your choice and to her parents. 


When the wedding is over, take your bride to 
Marinella and keep her there as long as possible, 
that she may have good habits from the first." 

In a subsequent letter, dated November 12, he 
says : " I rejoice that such good alliances are 
offered you. Use all possible diligence to make 
a choice which you will not have reason to re 
gret. I wish to give you another caution : now 
that you are alone, dismiss all your young female 
servants. You can promise to take them again 
when you set up your establishment." 

Don Hercules espoused Lady Mariana Orsini, 
of the illustrious house of Nilo, a lady of exem 
plary conduct and extraordinary piety, whom 
Alphonsus was proud to have as a sister. " I pro 
mise myself all sorts of felicity," wrote the count, 
" as a consequence of your prayers and those of 
your congregation, as well as the excellent quali 
ties I perceive in Donna Mariana. She has always 
been pious, but her goodness at present quite as 
tonishes me." The enraptured bridegroom was 
not many years younger than his episcopal 

The solicitude of our saint for the count, pro 
ceeded from an intense zeal for the happiness and 
salvation of his dear brother. He never showed 
the least curiosity regarding the temporal inter 
ests of his kindred. During the thirty years he 
lived in the Congregation, he never set foot in his 
own house but once, and that was to aid and con 
sole his pious mother in the illness that carried 
her to the tomb. Though Don Hercules lived 
in the palace in which the saint had a hospice 


for his brethren, he never once entered his 
brother s apartments. On the count s marriage, 
the saint being invited to officiate, politely de 
clined. His wedding present to the bride was 
a paper print of the Blessed Virgin, inclosed in a 
little wooden frame, which Don Hercules indig 
nantly sent back. " My brother is offended, " 
said the saint, " though I have more cause ; what 
did he expect to receive ? I have poor here 
dying of hunger, and yet people want me to make 
presents ! " 

Alphonsus held preaching to be among the 
first duties of a bishop. " This ministration is 
almost the only one that Jesus Christ seems to 
have imposed on his apostles ; it is the one which 
he exacts of bishops, and to fail in it is to neglect 
an express command." He accomplished in this 
article the advice he gave to Cardinal Sersale 
when the latter was raised to the See of Naples, 
in 1754 : " I hope our Lord has sent your Eminence 
to remedy all defects, and I feel that I shall see 
you renew the days of St. Charles Borromeo, who 
preached with such fruit to the people of Milan. 
O how much more efficacious are the words of 

the chief shepherd than those of others ! 

Pardon my boldness; it is only for the glory 
of Jesus Christ that I speak. How much 
good you may do by preaching, especially in the 
first year ! I desire equally that you would give 

the spiritual exercises to all the clergy 

All the disasters that the Church deplores come 
from this : that men are admitted to the altar who 
were not called by God. It imports much then, 


that those you select give proofs of their divine 
calling-, not merely as to doctrine, but chiefly as 
to morals and the ecclesiastical spirit : this is the 
most indispensable point." 

Our saint was remarkable for his assiduity in 
preaching. Every Sunday he preached after ves 
pers, and on all feast days which fell during the 
week he preached in the parish churches. Every 
Sunday before the sermon he catechised the chil 
dren, giving them rosaries, pictures, and even 
money to attract them ; and he preached later in 
the day to the congregation of nobles, and to the 
sodality of young girls which he had founded. 
When he was at Arienzo, as the people could 
not easily come to the collegiate church, he 
preached alternately in one of the seven parishes, 
and, as his sermon was always accompanied by 
exposition, he provided the candles for these 
occasions himself, saying : " I desire God s glory, 
but I am unwilling to burden you with expenses." 
Every Saturdav he fulfilled his vow to publish 
the praises of Mary. The protestation for a good 
death, he made for the people at least once a 
month, with sermon and exposition. It is im 
possible to calculate the good effects of this 
practice alone. 

During the last three days of the carnival, the 
holy prelate endeavored to hinder the people from 
going to the public shows, by making the cere 
monies of the Church as attractive as possible 
throughout the diocese. Sometimes he preached 
in convent churches, and upon these occasions 
he ordered the sums set aside by the nuns for 


this purpose to be given to the ordinary clergy. 
During Lent, he always assembled the secular 
and regular clergy, for the spiritual exercises 
either at St. Agatha or at Arienzo. He con 
tinued to lay the greatest stress on preaching, and 
with reason: "We have lost much of our trade 
since Monsignore s arrival," said a Neapolitan 
magistrate ; " for his sermons and those he caused 
to be preached have made the people so peace 
able that there is no longer any disorder to be 

He sought workmen of learning and piety to 
aid him in the gigantic task of reforming his 
diocese. Jesuits, Dominicans, Priests of the Mis 
sion, Pious Workers all were pressed into the 
service by this untiring laborer, whose zeal liter 
ally gave him no moment of rest. Once, when 
speaking of Mary, at a mission at Arienzo, his 
countenance glowed and sparkled till the whole 
church was illumined by its rays of supernatural 
splendor. " See," he cried out in ecstasy, " the 
Blessed Virgin is coming to scatter blessings 
among us ; ask her, she will grant you every 
thing." This was but one of many similar occasions 
when his soul exhaled its divine ardors and his 
face beamed with heavenly fire. He ordained 
that a mission should be given in every parish in 
his diocese at least every two years, besides the 
novenas and triduos with which he strove to con 
firm the good and awaken the sinful. At first he 
would not invite missionaries of his own order, 
lest he might be suspected of some sinister inten 
tion ; but when the people knew him, this was not 


to be feared, and he freely employed Redemptor- 
ists towards the close of his episcopate. Charity 
towards sinners, and a popular style of preaching, 
were what he chiefly desired of the missionaries. 
To one who leaned towards rigorism, he said : 
" My father, too much indulgence may be hurtful 
to souls, but too much rigor is still more so. *. . 
With sinners, mildness and charity are necessary. 
This was the method of Jesus Christ, and if we 
would save souls we must not imitate Jansenius, 
but Jesus Christ, the Chief of missionaries." 

As to preaching, the saint was wont to say : 
" When Jesus Christ preached, he did not use ob 
scure but elegantly turned periods, words of 
learned length or rhetorical exaggerations ; all his 
words were on a level with the people s compre 
hension. His proofs were natural and never 
abstract. He used parables and comparisons 
which triumphed over the will by striking the 
mind and heart. The apostles followed their Di 
vine Master in this respect, and if we fail to 
imitate them, journeys, expense and fatigue will 
be useless. 

The expenses of these incessant missions were 
entirely defrayed by himself. He even furnished 
oil and candles for the churches, and enabled the 
missionaries, to give much relief to the poor, 
charging them to take particular care of all 
necessitous families, converted women, and young 
girls in danger. Still, he sometimes found priests 
who were unwilling to have missions ; one ex 
cused himself saying, he had no house for the 
fathers. Alphonsus, who divined his real feelings. 


said : " Well, purchase one at any cost. The 
expense will be defrayed for you." The priest 
replied in such terms, that the grand vicar and 
other dignitaries said he ought to be imprisoned. 
But our saint blamed their imprudent zeal, and 
pitied the weakness of the poor priest, who was 
so won by his sweetness that he himself asked 
for the mission. The holy bishop even apolo 
gized to him. " I do not say," he wrote to him, 
" that your reverence has put any impediment in 
the way, but I thought you did not show the 
anxiety I would have wished ; if I have been 
wrong in this, I hope you will excuse me, and 
now let us love each other as before. Blessed 
be God who has permitted this unpleasantness to 
arise to you as well as to me." 

During Lent, he wished the confessors mutually 
to exchange parishes, and by this means the 
Lenten exercises produced general advantage. 
When preachers and confessors presented them 
selves for his benediction, he liked to keep them 
for some days with him that by conversing with 
them he might form some idea of their capability 
and knowledge. He could not bear those 
preachers whose high flown oratory rendered 
them unintelligible to the people. " Poor Jesus 
Christ !" he would murmur as he listened to them. 
To one of this genus, he indignantly said : " Is 
it not to betray Jesus Christ and the people, to 
preach in that way ? If I did not order you out 
of the pulpit, it was through respect for the habit 
you wear. What fruit have the people gathered 
from all the tropes and metaphors and pompous 


phrases with which you entertained them ? For 
yourself, this was mere vanity, to be expiated in 
purgatory. Your end should be to move hearts, 
and cause tears of contrition to flow ; but no one 
was touched, the people understood nothing-." 

In 1763, Italy was ravaged by a fearful famine, 
which our saint had predicted previous to his 
elevation to the episcopate, and on several occa 
sions after that event. During the harvest of 
the fatal year, like another Joseph, he ordered his 
secretary to buy up an enormous quantity of the 
cheaper kinds of provisions. Every body 
laughed at this, but ere the end of November 
the scarcity had spread from one extremity oi 
the kingdom to the other. The starving poor 
had recourse to their common father ; by hun 
dreds at a time they thronged his halls and 
besieged his residence, craving a morsel of bread. 
Alphonsus was affected to tears by this misery, 
and commanded his servants to relieve them all, 
saying : " They only ask for what belongs to 
them." He sent in every direction to procure 
corn, and applied to Count Hercules, then 
governor of Naples, who liberally supplied St. 
Agatha, though corn was already sold at famine 
prices. He appealed to his rich patrons and 
friends, and they were not slow to respond to the 
pleadings of his charity. Our dear old saint was 
overjoyed at being able to assist his suffering chil 
dren. In the great hall of his palace all the neces 
sitous were registered alphabetically, and they 
received relief as they presented themselves. But 
this did not satisfy the all-reaching charity of his 


paternal heart. He could not sit down in com 
fort while a single human being in his diocese 
wanted bread. He sought out those who were 
ashamed to beg, and those who, through infirmity, 
were unable to leave their cold and dreary homes. 
Love, and even reverence, for the poor ! Beau 
tiful Catholic charity ! what is like unto thee ? 
Political economy ! A plague upon the hateful 
thing that would stamp the divine image from 
out the lineaments of the poor, the sorrow- 
stricken and the lowly ! Accursed progress ! 
Vile civilization ! whereby man calls his brother 
a pauper ! Yet triumphant charity, all-pervad 
ing Spirit of Jesus ! Triumphant indeed, since it 
is Catholic charity, in fact, and in tradition, as 
well as in heroic example, that compels even the 
infidel governments of to-day to dole out a nig 
gard stipend to the poor, having first robbed them 
of their revenues, and rendered powerless the 
arm that was wont to sustain them. The heroic, 
the ever-living charity of the church has shamed 
the heretic and the unbeliever ; for Alphonsus is 
neither the first nor the last saint, who not only 
relieved all who presented themselves, but made 
it a duty and a study, to seek out the bashful and 
infirm poor, and relieve their bodily wants without 
paining their over sensitive hearts. Beautiful spirit 
of Jesus ! Glorious characteristic of His Church ! 
The poor we have always with us, and He who 
deigns to be styled the Father of the Poor can never 
be far from those who love His dearest children. 
Despite the excessive tenderness of our saint, 
the frenzied people often reproached him, and 


even accused him of having sold the corn his own 
brother had sent him for their relief. " My poor 
people deserve compassion," said this good 
pastor, " it is not they who speak, but the famine 
within them; their hearts are good." And, 
verily the saint meant what he said; for, a 
furious woman having violently assailed him, and 
the Sacristan having scolded and pushed her 
away by the shoulder, the good Bishop was so 
indignant at the officious and censurable zeal of 
that rough official, that he actually sent him to 
prison for four days. 

The scourge increased to such a pitch, that, as 
our saint had predicted, human beings were seen 
devouring the grass of the hedges, and roving 
through the county like spectres. Alphonsus 
was almost heartbroken. He sought assistance 
from the wealthy, and commanded priests and 
superiors of convents to retrench their ordinary 
expenditures in behalf of the poor. Nothing but 
the cheapest and coarsest food was served on the 
episcopal table: "We must do without some 
thing," said the saint, " when our people are 
dying of hunger." Hearing that the superior 
of a wealthy convent was stingy towards the 
poor, he reproached him severely for his hard- 
heartedness. " I am obliged to maintain my 
family," said the superior, " what is over and 
above, I give to the poor." The saint burning 
with indignation, rose from his chair and ex 
claimed with vehemence : " Do you know what 
maintain means now? Eat enough to preserve 
life, and give the surplus to the poor. You 


became a religious to lead a life of poverty and 
penance. Do you believe in the Gospel or are 
you a Turk? " 

This reproof doubly terrible in the mouth of 
the meekest of bishops, had a powerful effect on 
him to whom it was addressed. The poor of his 
quarter were ever afterwards bountifully, and 
even tenderly, cared for. 

Rest was unknown to Alphonsus during this 
terrific season. Not a single room in his palace 
but was open to the poor, and not an hour of the 
day when they did not throng around him. One 
evening after all had been relieved, a man was 
found stretched in the hall, motionless and appar 
ently expiring. The holy prelate hearing this, 
came quickly with the ordinary restoratives, but 
it was only after repeated efforts that he had the 
happiness of seeing the poor creature restored to 

The famine continued to madden the unfortunate 
people. One day they rushed upon the dwelling 
of Dominic Carvo, the superintendent of pro 
visions, whom they threatened to assassinate. 
The hapless official succeeded in escaping to the 
episcopal residence, but the mutinous crowd 
followed shouting ; " Life for life ! " The saint 
offered himself as a victim to appease their rage : 
he went into the midst of them, wept over them, 
pressed them to his heart, and when this spectacle 
had somewhat calmed, or rather stunned them, he 
distributed all the bread and meat in the palace, 
seminary, and public stores, among his dear chil 
dren, the poor rioters. 


When our saint had exhausted his own resources 
and the fruits of the bounty of his friends, he 
obtained leave of the Holy Father to mortgage 
all his income for the poor. He would have sold 
the plate of his predecessors, the pectoral cross, 
ewer and candlestick, heirlooms of the See, had not 
his canons refused to allow this episcopal prop 
erty to be alienated. However he sold the ring 
which had been presented to him at his consecra 
tion by his friend and penitent Jane Versale, as 
well as that which he had received from Bishop 
Giannini. His own pectoral cross quickly fol 
lowed; a plain gilt one served in future for 
pontifical ceremonies. He ordered his secretary 
to sell what little plate he owned, and was about 
to dispose of his very rochet, until he was assured 
that it was all but worthless. When his grand 
Vicar urged him not to sell his carriage, he said : 
St. Peter was Pope and he owned no carriage, 
I am not greater than St. Peter, and therefore can 
do without one." To the count Hercules who 
also objected to this measure, he wrote ; " Pre 
texts to induce me to keep my carriage, I regard 

as temptations of the devil I cannot bear 

to see mules in my stable nearly all the year with 
nothing to do ; the coachman wasting his time 
the while, and the poor asking for bread." His 
brother Cajetan purchased the episcopal carriage 
and mules at an exorbitant price, to prevent their 
passing into the hands of strangers. 

It Struck the saint that though the canons would 
not allow him to sell the episcopal regalia pertain 
ing to the See, they would at least agree that ne 


might pledge them. But they negatived this 
proposal also. The poor, dear bishop wept and 
wrung his hands in anguish, and here we have a 
singular spectacle Alphonsus, the saint of holy 
poverty, envies rich prelates who need place no 
bounds to their benevolence. Nay, he even desires 
supernatural power, but not separated from 
sanctity. " O that I merited as much before God 
as St. Thomas of Villa Nova," he exclaimed with 
holy envy. " I might find my granaries filled 
with corn as he did ! " Covetous saint ; but 
covetous only for the poor of Jesus Christ whom 
he carried in his heart as his best beloved 

Regarding sin as the cause of the terrible 
scourge that desolated the diocese, he redoubled 
his austerities to appease the divine wrath, or 
turn its darts from his children upon himself. 
He daily addressed heaven in their behalf, and 
besought the sinful among them to be converted 
to their heavenly Father, and to weep over the 
sins that had brought upon the country so dire a 
calamity. At last God was propitious to the 
prayers of his servant ; the famine gradually 
abated, and returning spring brought with it new 
resources. But the disorders and abuses conse 
quent upon this awful visitation were neither few 
nor slight. Creditors tortured their debtors, 
usury was extensively practised ; nor could a 
broken-down people resist the unjust and the 
hard-hearted. The father of the people inveighed 
against these abuses with his usual fervid elo 
quence, and the merchants and financiers, to their 


credit be it recorded, could not withstand the 
sweet pleadings of this great heart. He enjoined 
upon the parish priests the relief of the sick, the 
convalescing, and the necessituous, and secured 
their co-operation, and that of the most influen 
tial people of the diocese, in endeavoring to do 
away with the miserable effects of the famine as 
speedily as possible. So powerful is heroic 

Greetings, shouts of joy, ovations improvised 
by the hearts of a grateful people, awaited 
Alphonsus at every stage of his next progress 
through his diocese. His mere presence among 
them, caused his people to exult with the most 
rapturous delight. He was now not merely, " the 
saint who smoothes our way to heaven, " but the saint 
who carried them in his bosom, who bewailed 
their trials as his own, who suffered in his soul, 
and even in his body, the physical evils which, 
but for him, would have tried them beyond 
endurance, and which he had more than beg 
gared himself to alleviate, if he could not wholly 


Alphonsus presides at a General Chapter of his Congregation. 
His old opponent Patuzzi again attacks him. Alphonsus dedi 
cates his Defence to the reigning Pontiff. Want of courtesy 
in Patuzzi. Apology. Proposed Synod. Decrees issued. 
New arrangement of parishes. 

IN July 1764, our saint accepted an invitation to 
preside at a general chapter of his Congregation 
to be held at Nocera, whither he repaired 
towards the close of September. In passing 
through Nola, he stopped at the Seminary, and 
being asked to address the seminarians, he spoke 
to them for over an hour on the subject with 
which his heart was ever filled, the love of Jesus. 
Here he saw bishop Caracioli, a kindred spirit ; 
they met with mutual delight, and conversed 
a* long time on the affairs of the Church in 
general, and of their respective dioceses. The 
bishop among other things remarked that a 
colleague had lately addressed him as " Eccel- 
lency," but that he did not return the compli 
ment. " You did well," rejoined Alphonsus, " I 
cannot understand how this title came to be 
used. The Council of Trent deigned to grant 
us the title of Right Reverend/ now some wish 
to add, Most Illustrious/ If we had coveted 
4 Excellency, we should have remained at 


When the saint entered the church to adore 
the Blessed Sacrament, he was conducted to the 
episcopal seat, but, with that elegant politeness 
and keen sense of propriety which always dis 
tinguished his intercourse with his brother 
clergymen of every order, he rested on a simple 
bench, declining to usurp any mark of distinction 
in the cathedral of another prelate. 

During the chapter which lasted a month, the 
rules and customs already in use were revised 
and confirmed. As the saint was the soul of the 
assembly, everything was done in a manner 
most satisfactory to all concerned. Eager to 
rejoin his flock, he set out for St. Agatha on the 
termination of the chapter, and was then obliged 
to combat a new enemy. 

Father Vincent Patuzzi, who had formerly 
criticized very severely the Moral Theology of 
the saintly Doctor, now renewed his attacks. " I 
am rejoiced that he attacks me," said the saint, 
"for the truth will be displayed all the more 
clearly, which is solely what I seek. If he proves 
me wrong, I am ready to retract." 

The holy bishop replied to his adversary in a 
learned and moderate address, in which he 
sustained his doctrine by the authority of the 
canons, the holy Fathers, the most celebrated 
theologians, especially the great Dominican 
Divine St. Thomas Aquinas, and which he 
dedicated to Pope Clement XII T, with this 

" I protest that in all I have written, I have had 
no desire, save to make the truth evident in so 


grave a matter, on which depends the good or 
evil direction of consciences ; and as I had the 
honor of dedicating my Moral Theology to the 
sovereign Pontiff, Benedict XIV, I venture to 
submit to your Holiness, this treatise, which is 
an appendix to its sense ; that your Holiness 
may deign to correct, modify or cancel, what 
ever may be opposed to the maxims of the 
Gospel and the rules of Christain prudence." 

It is not pleasant to describe the spirit in 
which Patuzzi continued the controversy, and 
we do not find it easy to excuse the opponent 
who could use towards a prelate of undoubted 
sanctity and extraordinary learning the following 
phraseology : " It is impossible to imagine how 
you could have so far mistaken the doctrine of 
St. Thomas . . . Study these questions better, 
that you may not expose yourself to the raillery 
of intelligent men . . . You have no just ideas 
on these matters . . . You ought to blush for 
your statements." . . . 

It is singular that Patuzzi should regard as 
calumny our saint s eloquent but temperate 
refutation of his ill-judged attacks. " If you 
think I have calumniated you," the bishop wrote, 
" pardon me, 1 can only offer my excuses." 
But he facetiously adds : " Unhappy that I am, 

The writer is obliged to Mr. Justin McCarthy for instructing 
Mr. Disraeli that the word "Apology" bears more meanings than 
one. In the "Apologies " put forth by Doctors and martyrs, from 
the Apology of Tertullian in the second century, to that of Dr. 
Newman in the nineteenth, Catholic Doctrine, &c., has rather 
been explained and defended than apologized for. 


I am abused, and then accused of being the 
culprit! " 

Alphonsus sent his " Apology " to the arch 
bishops and bishops as well as to other theolo 
gical doctors, who all united in praising his 
wonderful learning, and still more the extraor 
dinary humility and moderation he displayed 
towards so virulent an adversary. The numer 
ous letters of approbation he received on that 
occasion, were afterwards appended to the Moral 
Theology of the saint, where they may still be 
seen by those who desire to examine them. 

The discussion or rather dispute, was briskly 
kept up, on one side at least. " I have received/ 
wrote Alphonsus, " your well-meant letter of 
mingled praises and reproaches, admonitions, 
menaces and counsels. You say you are aston 
ished that, while leading an edifying life, (it were 
more correct to say that I deceive the public), 
I profess erroneous doctrine. My dear Father, 
I judge precisely the contrary. I see that my 
life, far from being exemplary, is full of faults, 
while I regard my system as wise, and even 

Elsewhere the saint writes : " As your reverence 
counsels me to reflect whether I am not guilty 
before God for having maintained too indulgent 
an opinion ; I would suggest that you, who are 
constantly administering the sacrament of pen 
ance, would examine whether you may not have 
a stricter account to render than I, for having 
followed rigorous opinions, by which you have 
embarassed consciences, and forced your peni- 


tents to hold as sinful that which is not sinful ; in 
consequence of which you may have caused 
many formal sins to be committed which were 
not such before God, and occasioned the damna 
tion of many souls." As it was now evident to 
all the world that Patuzzi acted through mere 
party spirit, several prelates advised the saint to 
take no farther trouble to refute his sophisms, an 
advice he willingly followed, convinced that hav 
ing once clearly stated the truth, his time could 
be more profitably employed than in refuting 
an opponent with whom it was no honor to 
grapple. Posterity as well as contemporaries 
have abundantly vindicated the great saint, on 
whose brow our Infallible Pontiff has but lately 
placed the crown of Doctor of the Church, a 
dignity as rare as it is illustrious. 

When the bishop had made himself thoroughly 
conversant with the state of his diocese, he in 
formed the Pope of the necessity of holding a 
synod, but as this proposal was not well received 
by his brother-prelates whom he had consulted, 
though the approbation of His Holiness was 
freely given the saint gave up his design, say 
ing : " I will accomplish by simple decrees what 
I wished to regulate in a synod." After advising 
with the most eminent and learned among his 
clergy, and others celebrated for wisdom and 
moderation, the articles prepared for the synodi- 
cal assembly were replaced by six ordinances, 
which he promulgated in due form and caused 
to be rigorously observed. 

The first decree referred to canons and chap- 


lains, priests of the cathedral, the rubrics, the 
discipline of the choir and other similar matters. 

The second referred to the duties of arch- 
priests, vicars and rectors. He renewed the or 
der he had previously issued regarding- the in 
struction of people and children in the Christian 
doctrine, and added several minute directions as 
to preparation for paschal and first communion ; 
he gave particular directions that all who desired 
to enter the married state should be examined in 
the Christian doctrine, and if necessary instructed. 
He inculcated the duty of preaching every 
Sunday, and reminded the parish priests that 
they sinned grievously if they did not administer 
Extreme Unction till the dying person had lost 
his reason. To prevent sin, which may be said 
to have been the great aim of his life, he ordered 
the parochial clergy to require that all betroth- 
ments should be followed speedily by marriage. 
Besides the Easter Communion he appointed 
two general communions for the young of both 
sexes. It was prohibited to accept of any legacy 
without first informing the bishops, who had to 
decide whether the conditions imposed by the 
testator could be fulfilled. Various other regu 
lations increased the usefulness of this ordinance. 

The third reminded all confessors of the abso 
lute necessity of studying moral theology, and 
added some valuable instruction as to the duty 
of the confessor in the confessional. He called 
their attention to the Bull of Pius V which im 
poses on physicians the duty of sending for the 
priest after their third visit to a patient in danger, 


He advised the confessors to exhort their peni 
tents to pray often, especially in times of danger 
and temptation, to invoke incessantly the names 
of Jesus and Mary, to recite the rosary, and three 
Aves morning and evening in honor of the 
Mother of Purity and Perseverance, and to teach 
a brief method of mental prayer to those most 
inclined to piety. 

The fourth decreed suspension to any priest 
who should celebrate mass with such indecent 
haste as to finish in less than a quarter of an 
hour. Under the same penalty games of chance 
were prohibited. He forbade hunting with a 
gun or with nets, without the written permission 
of the bishop, which never extends to days of obli 
gation, and he exhorted all clerics to aid their 
parish priests in instructing the people in the 
Christian doctrine. 

The fifth related to candidates for holy orders. 

The sixth to the dress of the clergy, and affords 
a curious illustration of the age and country. 
The hair was not to be curled, perfumed, 
studiously arranged, or worn so long as to cover 
the neck or ears ; colored cloaks, shirt ruffles and 
plaited lace were severely interdicted. The holy 
bishop enforced these regulations so as to punish 
rigorously all infractions, " Any contempt shown 
to myself does not affect me at all," he said, " or 
rather, I thank God for it; but I cannot suffer 
my ordinances to be disregarded." 

During his pastoral visitations the saint found 
that thousands of his people were so situated as 
to be left in great spiritual abandonment. The 


population of his episcopal city and its suburbs 
exceeded twenty four thousand. Some of these 
people were four or five miles from their parish 
church, a great distance for the poorer classes 
who had no conveyance, and who found walking 
painful in the summer heats, and nearly impossi 
ble in the snows and rains of winter, which 
rendered the bad roads almost impassable. The 
very old and the very young rarely saw their 
pastor. The instruction of the people was ne 
glected, and many died without Extreme Unction 
and Viaticum. 

To remedy these evils as much as possible, the 
saint made a new division of parishes, and with 
the surplus benefices of the richer parishes was 
able to supply several rural chapels. When this 
was not practicable, he established a chaplain, to 
celebrate mass on Sundays and festivals, and ad 
ded to his salary from his own income to induce 
him to preach and to catechise the children. 
This, as will be readily perceived, was a work 
of extraordinary difficulty, as it required all the 
energy as well as all the meekness of the saint to 
encounter the opposition manifested by interested 
parties. But his persuasive eloquence, suppor 
ted by his all-powerful example, overcame all 
obstacles, for who could resist one that did a 
thousand times more than he exacted of the 
most fervent ? 


Dangerous Illness of the saint. Non recuso laborem. Miracle. 
The saint refuses to play on the harpsichord. At Nocera. 
Impatient to return to St. Agatha. Letter. Bad books. The 
saint s measures against their circulation. His Prophecy re 
garding the Free Masons. Papal Infallibility. The assembly. 
Society of Jesus. Circular Letter. He endeavors to resign. 

EXCESSIVE austerities and perpetual labors laid 
our saint in a bed of sickness towards the close 
of 1764. His life being despaired of, Extreme 
Unction and Holy Viaticum were administered ; 
and the saint besought the priests who stood near 
his straw pallet to suggest some sentiments of 
love. Tears choked the utterance of the Domi 
nican Father Caputo, but a deacon who was 
present, said : " My Lord, when St. Martin was 
near death he addressed to God this prayer: 
* If I am still necessary to Thy people, O Lord, 
I refuse not to labor. " Our saint who scarcely 
breathed, faintly echoed: "Non recuso laborem" 
I refuse not to labor. 

Bitter was the grief of the inhabitants of St. 
Agatha at the dismal prospect of losing their 
bishop and their Father. The poor especially 
bewailed their best benefactor, and their tears 
and prayers were incessantly poured forth for 
his restoration, and heaven was not deaf to their 
supplications. While yet oscillating as it were 


between life and death, a miracle attested his 
sanctity. One day, the canon Charles Bruno, 
brought him a present of fig-peckers. He was 
accompanied by his nephew a boy of four, who 
had never yet uttered a syllable. The saint 
with his customary sweetness towards children, 
desired a lay-brother who was present to bring 
the little innocent some bonbons, and asked the 
canon his name. " He is called Thomas," was 
the reply, " but," added the uncle, sadly, " he is 
quite dumb, he has never articulated a single 
word." This intelligence grieved the saint. He 
made the sign of the cross on the child s up 
turned forehead, and giving him a picture of 
our Lady to kiss, said : " Do you know, my little 
one, how this Lady is called ? " The child kissed 
the picture, and without the least hesitation, 
replied, " The Madonna ! " From that moment 
the child spoke perfectly well. Alphonsus, to 
conceal the miracle, said to the canon : " The child 
is not dumb, there is an impediment in his speech, 
but that will gradually disappear." Nevertheless, 
the miracle became noised abroad, and added to 
the high idea already entertained of the vener 
able prelate by all who knew him. 

The doctors ordered him to Nocera, but he 
refused to leave his See, and it required a 
command from Father Villani, his director, to 
induce him to obey them. When he was with 
his dear Congregation once more, he never 
failed to be present at all the common exercises, 
and when he had any leisure, he would resume 
his literary labors. One day a priest asked him 


to play the harpsichord, an instrument on which he 
greatly excelled. " What ! " he exclaimed, " ought 
it be said of a bishop that he passes his time 
playing on an idle instrument instead of thinking 
of his diocese ? It is my duty, and the duty of 
every bishop, to give audience to all, to pray, 
to study, but not to play the harpsichord." 

The rector caused him to be treated with 
some distinction, because of his dignity, and 
infirmities, but this well-meant politeness was a 
martyrdom to him. One day, he asked for a 
glass of water, and the brother who was waiting 
on him handed him in mistake a vase of water 
in which flowers had been kept some days 
previous. The saint drank it as if it had been 
just drawn from the purest spring. 

God continued ever and anon to favor him 
with graces that seem to belong to a brighter 
world than ours. One day as he was beginning 
Mass, he fell into an ecstasy as he cast his eyes 
on the picture of our Lady of Sorrows. It was 
not until the Father who served his Mass had 
shaken him several times that he was able to 
proceed. He could not rest while away from 
his diocese, and was perpetually tormented with 
scruples. Hearing that a person whom he had 
banished from St. Agatha on account of her ill- 
conduct, had returned, he would delay no longer. 
Mgr. Volpi one day said to him : " My Lord, 
why are you so unquiet?" "Because I am a 
bishop," was the reply. " My Lord," said he to 
the same prelate, on another occasion, " I have 
a spouse. God wills me to be with my spouse 


at St. Agatha, not at Nocera." When his 
strength was somewhat restored, he continued 
his visitation, and would have resumed all his 
ordinary austerities, had not his director, Father 
Villani, prohibited them. When he judged that 
his health was quite restored, he wrote to Father 
Villani, October 28., as follows : 

" The milk diet has quite cured me, and if you 
permit, I will resume the straw bed again. I 
have begun to wear the chains on the part where 
the old blister was. I ask your blessing for this. 
. . Father Majone has desired me to partake of 
a second dish at dinner; but I ask your Rever 
ence as my principal director to allow me to eat 
the bouilli only ; if you do not approve of this, 
I will submit to your decision." 

The mind of our holy prelate was continually 
on the rack at this epoch. Bad books which 
issued from the press by thousands, especially in 
France, were clandestinely circulated through 
Naples to the great detriment of faith and morals. 
His age and still more the heavy burden of the 
episcopate left him no leisure to refute the 
errors now breathed everywhere, but he be 
sought the king and his ministers to hinder the 
introduction of this silent but powerful emis 
sary of evil. He desired Father de Meo to 
undertake the refutation of the pernicious works 
of Basnage, whom he ironically styles our friend , 
and whose w^orks he considered particularly 
injurious. His Moral Theology was again 
attacked by Father Patuzzi, who was now joined 
by Father Gonzales. " Let them do as thev 


please," wrote the saint, " I did not write to 
gain honor, but to make the truth known. If 
my writings bring conviction to my readers, it is 
well ; if not, I do not wish to be victorious by 
obstinacy. . . Meanwhile souls go to ruin; let 
us pray God to put a stop to this." 

The proceedings of the Jansenists almost 
broke his heart. " Their intention," says he, " as 
unveiled by themsevles is to overthrow the 
Church." Arnauld s book on Frequent Com 
munion, flippantly quoted at the time as La Fre- 
quente, particularly annoyed him. " He speaks 
only of the purity and perfection with which 
one should approach the Holy Eucharist, but 
his sole object is to keep the faithful from this 
Sacrament, the only support of human weakness. 

His words with regard to the sect of Free 
masons were prophetic : This sect," said he with 
tears, " will cause evil not only to the Church, 
but also to kingdoms and sovereigns. Kings 
will recognize their fatal significance when too 
late. The Free-masons act against God now, 
but they will soon attack kings." Must not the 
saint have seen in spirit the shattered thrones of 
the nineteenth century ! But he held the Jan 
senists in especial aversion. " They are more 
dangerous," said he, " than Luther and Calvin, 
because they are hidden, and one does not avoid 

About this time he wrote Father Saprio of the 
Oratory : 

" I am engaged in writing a complete refutation 
of the errors of modern deists and materialists. 


Recommend me to God that He may aid me to 
write, so as to undeceive poor young people 
who, in such numbers, imbibe these errors, prin 
cipally from bad books. We must weep and 
pray over the poor church, but let us have con 
ndence, the gates of hell shall not prevail against 

His greatest sorrow was to hear the Papal In 
fallibility questioned. In his " Reflections on the 
Declaration of the Assembly of France, &c " he 
proved the Pope s Infallibility as a matter of 
faith, by the authority of the holy fathers and 
Ecumenical Councils ; and showed how little 
value was to be attached to this Assembly, which, 
so far from being a general Council, consisted 
only of forty-four bishops, convened by the com 
mand of Louis XIV, who, in retaliation for the 
Pope s having refused him the revenues of the 
vacant bishoprics, forbid the Sorbonne to make 
any opposition, and commanded the adhering 
bishops to teach this doctrine in their dioceses.* 

The saint was deeply grieved at the dangers 
which threatened the Society of Jesus. He 
wrote to J. Mattei, Provincial, as follows : " I 
have not received any tidings about your Society, 
and I feel almost as uneasy as if the disasters 
threatened our own little Congregation. A So 
ciety is threatened, which has, so to say, sanctified 
the world, and which continues unceasingly to 
sanctify it." When Clement XIII. issued a Bull 

* The forty-four bishops themselves assured the Pope in a protest 
that they did not condemn the contrary opinion, i. e. Papal Infalli 



to confirm the Society anew, the saint was so re 
joiced that he wrote to the Sovereign Pontiff to 
thank him from the depths of his heart. 

Weighed down, as it were, by his solicitude for 
all the churches, he did not by any means neglect 
his own Congregation. This was the dearest of 
his works, and he cherished it as his own soul. 
The smallest defect, the least stain, grieved him 
to the heart, and in this respect, trifles were con 
siderable in his eyes. Love and grief made him 
speak of the little faults and weakness of his sons 
in a true exaggeration, for he would not have 
spot or wrinkle in a work he so tenderly cher 
ished." " I perceive with sorrow," he writes, "that 
fervor begins to decay among the members of 
the Congregation. I beg of each to watch care 
fully over himself for the future, because I can 
not suffer any relaxation in the rule. I am told 
there is very little inclination for poverty and 
mortification. Alas, have we entered religion to 
enjoy ease and escape pain ? I hear also that obe 
dience is less strictly observed ; if obedience 
ceases, the Congregation will not survive it, 

" I have told Father Villani to punish public 
faults by public mortifications, and to expel the 
incorrigible. We have no need of subjects, we 
covet only those who are resolved to become 
saints. If ten who really love God remain, it is 
enough. It is too ungrateful to repay God by 
failings, for the love he bears towards the Con 
gregation. Do we wish to become like those 
who cause scandal rather than edification to the 
Church? I have told Father Villani that his 


government is too weak and mild, and that I 
wish to be better informed of everything of con 
sequence that occurs for the future. . . . Let 
none of the young Fathers ever fail to have his 
sermons revised by some of the seniors who un 
derstand the matter, and let each before preach 
ing or giving an instruction, read over what he 
has to say, that all may bear the impress of order 
and solidity, without studied terms or highflown 
language. . . Above all we must mortify our 
selves to please God, otherwise God will not aid 
us, and we shall preach in vain." 

In the year 1764, our saint thought of resign 
ing his bishopric, as he had been promised when 
he accepted it that he could afterwards re 
nounce it. But the Pope refused to accept his 
resignation. The saint, however, was not dis 
couraged by this refusal. Later on he wrote 
some letters on the subject from which we give 
the following extracts : 

" The principal reason for my resignation must 
not be the desire for retirement (this not being a 
sufficient one) but my advanced age and ever in 
creasing infirmities. Besides my usual affliction 
of the chest, I was ill almost constantly last win 
ter. I may say I am so still, having been con 
fined to bed for upwards of a month. It is true, 
for I must tell all to prevent scruples that I 
attend to business, and that everything is done as 
usual ; but as long as winter lasts I am unable to 
go on the visitation, or to assist in choir. In 
summer 1 can go through my diocese during 
three or four months. I am forced to ask my de- 


mission, for I am overwhelmed with scruples at 
seeing scandals which I should not tolerate. I 
tremble too, lest I may seek my own ease in this 
resignation, and not God s glory : hence I wish to 
be sure as to what will really conduce to the 
divine honor. 

" I meet with much to disgust me, but I have 
the words : If you love me^.feed my sheep, and it 
matters little whether I live or succumb. The 
uncertainty as to whether or not I do God s 
will in giving in my resignation, is my greatest 

All this our saint represented still more 
strongly to the Pope, though with entire submis 
sion. Cardinals and prelates took sides with the 
holy old man, but to no purpose. " His shadow 
alone would suffice to govern the whole diocese" was 
the energetic reply of the Pope. Among other 
mediators, the saint had employed Mgr. Palla- 
viano, the Nuncio at Naples, but the Pope 
informed him also, that he positively wished that 
Bishop Liguori should continue to bear the bur 
den of his high charge. " The same will of God 
which made you a bishop," said the Nuncio to 
him, " will know how to aid you in ruling your 

Mgr. Borgia, who had also interceeded for him, 
now soothed him saying: " Do not be distressed ; 
it is indeed the will of God." And the thought 
that it was the divine will enabled the saint to 
endure, even if he had to sink beneath the bur 
den. Singular to relate, from the first of June 
1765, he and those about him, heard a great num- 


ber of little blows from his pectoral cross every 
time he said the rosary. They examined 
whether there was an insect in it, but found 
none. But as soon as he had received the Pope s 
negative, they were heard no more. 

He concluded that God willed him, for the 
present, to continue to bear the cross with which 
he had been invested by apostolic authoritv. 


Nuns of the Most Holy Redeemer. Remarks of Archdeacon 
Raiuunc. The Church of St. Nobody. Sister Mary Raphael 
of Charity. Additions. Grand Reception. Our Saint s Atten 
tion to the Wants of the Sisters. Success of the new founda 
tion. Alphonsus conducts the retreat of the novices. 
Liberality of the Saint. His Kindness to the Sisters. His way 
with them. 

ONE of the most important works undertaken 
by our saint was the establishment of the nuns 
of the Most Holy Redeemer. It is singular that 
so ancient and distinguished a city as St. Agatha, 
had no convent for the education of young ladies 
of high family. The absence of such an institu 
tion was regretted, on account of the expense 
and inconvenience consequent upon sending to a 
distance, the daughters of noble houses, to receive 
their education, and often to take the veil. To 
supply this deficiency, our saint exerted all his 
ingenuity, and he succeeded, despite obstacles 
that seemed insuperable. 

" The establishment of the convent of the Most 
Holy Redeemer " wrote Archdeacon Rainone to 
Father Tannoia, (who may be called the Boswell 
of the great Bishop), "is undoubtedly a work 
most worthy to promote the glory of God, most 
honorable to his Lordship, and most useful to our 
town. The Lord has reserved for our saintly 


Prelate, the honor of making this foundation; 
his zeal, his constancy, and his great solicitude 
were necessary for its success." 

Two centuries ago this work had been at 
tempted, but failed. In 1610, the Lords of 
Mazzi had begun something similar, but this 
patrician family became extinct before the build 
ing was finigfeed, and the church, partially raised, 
was styled by the people, St. Nobody s Church. 
During the episcopate of Mgr. Danza, who was 
raised to the see in 1681, Canon Talia established 
in this church without a patron, a pious con 
fraternity, which became the edification of the 
whole town, but this did not long survive the 
death of its worthy originator. A community 
of Franciscan nuns replaced the scattered breth 
ren, and did much good during half a century, 
but discord penetrated into this holy spot, and 
it was finally abandoned. The Duke of Costa 
thought of establishing a convent of cloistered 
nuns there, but his death prevented the realiza 
tion of his pious wishes. Finally the edifice 
became a sort of temporary barracks for super 
fluous troops. 

When it became known that Alphonsus de 
signed to change these unlucky quarters into a 
nest for doves, he was assailed by a storm of 
opposition. Some wanted a cloistered monastery, 
some an asylum for men, and others, nothing of 
the kind. " Explain your meaning," said the saint 
to the more influential, " if you intend to found 
a convent of servants of God, I will co-operate, 
but if you want a mere assemblage of women, 


you better say no more about it." At last, the 
people wisely agreed to leave the affair entirely to 
him, and he decided on inviting a little colony from 
the convent of the Most Holy Redeemer at Scala 
There was no sufficient revenue for this purpose, 
but the holy prelate redoubled his confidence in 
God, and ere long an income of over six hundred 
ducats was forthcoming, which, witl^ the dowries, 
was quite sufficient for his designs. 

The work seemed to go forward as if by 
magic. The saint was on the spot every day, to 
encourage and quicken the workmen. He was 
greatly aided by Don Francis Mastillo, agent of 
the Duke of Maddalon. When the approbation 
of the Pope and the consent of the King had been 
obtained, Alphonsus presented his request to the 
monastery of Scala. Sister Mary Raphael of 
Charity was chosen superioress, Sister Mary 
Felicia of the Holy Nails, Sister Mary Celestine 
of Divine Love, and a lay-sister, Mary Joseph of 
Jesus and Mary, completed the foundation. All 
four were models of piety. They reached Nocera 
June 27, 1766, and St. Agatha next day. They 
were accompanied by two ladies, who had gone to 
meet them, the treasurer, a canon of the cathedral, 
and Fathers Villani and Ferara. Two young 
ladies of quality were so taken with the virtues 
of Mother Raphael during her stay at Nola, 
that they immediately joined her. 

The saint was so rejoiced at the arrival of the 
sisters, that he persuaded the people to adorn the 
gates of the town with unusual magnificence, and 
to ornament the streets with wreaths of myrtle, 


rosemary and evergreens. He advanced to meet 
them in his pontifical vestments at the head of 
his chapter and all his clergy. The firing of 
cannon and the ringing of bells were in unison 
with the joy of the people. After visiting the 
Blessed Sacrament, the religious went in proces 
sion to the new convent, preceded by the con 
ventual fathers, the seminarists, the clergy, and the 
chapter, after whom went the bishop followed by 
all the nobles. The Blessed Sacrament was 
exposed in the convent chapel and the Te Deum 
chanted. The ladies of the city had the privi 
lege of visiting the sisters until Wednesday, the 
Feast of the Visitation of Our Blessed Lady, on 
which day the grand Vicar went in the bishop s 
name to establish inclosure with the usual 

The saint provided every thing for these his 
dear children. Corn, wine, cooking utensils, 
table-linen, furniture nothing was wanting. For 
the first eight days, he sent their repasts already 
cooked, and would have continued this liberality 
for a month, but the nuns declined, wishing to 
live in the poverty prescribed by their rule. 
When it became known that Bishop Liguori had 
made a foundation, the convent was speedily 
filled with pupils, and the good odor of Jesus 
Christ was spread abroad by the regularity of 
the house and the holiness of its foundresses. 

The two accessions already mentioned, were 

speedily increased to four, and all about to take 

the habit. The Bishop gave them the spiritual 

exercises himself, and their fervor filled him with 



joy. But there was one postulant so tormented 
with melancholy, that she wept and sighed un 
ceasingly for^ her father s house. One evening, 
our saint called her, and having succeeded in 
restoring her serenity, gave her a crucifix to kiss, 
and made her promise to take Jesus Christ for 
her Spouse. The poor child felt within her a 
complete change, she returned joyfully to the 
novitiate and was never again troubled by such 

Alphonsus acted differently towards another 
postulant, who repented of the step she had 
taken and lived in such a manner as to injure 
herself and do no good to others. " We must dis 
tinguish between temptation and obstinacy," 
said he, and though the lady was Archdeacon 
Rainone s niece, he silenced human respect, and 
sent her home to her parents. 

The young ladies who had joined Mother 
Raphael at Nola, were objects of the saint s 
peculiar kindness. Their brothers, dissatisfied 
with the step they had taken, for several years 
refused to pay their pension. The holy bishop 
knowing their sensitiveness on this point, paid it 
for them, but their brothers refunded their por 
tions previous to their profession. 

This convent was to Alphonsus as the apple of 
his eye ; it successfully rivalled the seminary in 
his affections. He never ceased to be its most 
liberal benefactor, never failing to send presents 
of oil, wine and corn at stated times, besides 
frequent donations of from ten to thirty ducats, 
the stipulated allowance he sent the Sisters 


once in a week, or at the farthest, once a month, 
and he promised to maintain the four foundresses 
while he lived. On feast days, he always sent 
presents of some kind, and whatever sweetmeats 
etc. were sent him from Naples by his relations 
or others, found their way, for the most part, to 
his dear monastery. 

The third Sunday in July was chosen for the 
solemn feast of the Most Holy Redeemer, and 
the saint caused it to be preceded by a triduo, 
and celebrated with extraordinary pomp. These 
good religious called Redemptoristines, have 
spread into Austria, Belgium, Holland and 
Ireland, and "every where," says Cardinal 
Villecourt, " The daughters of Alphonsus have 
shed the sweet odor of their virtues." 

The saint, as will be readily conjectured, 
always took the greatest interest in convents. 
He wished to revive every where ancient monas 
tic discipline, and nothing calculated to compass 
this end escaped his incessant vigilance. On his 
first arrival at St. Agatha, he sent Father Villani 
and other Fathers to give spiritual exercises 
in all the monasteries, and this was repeated at 
least once a year, " A retreat," said he, " is a 
fire in which the most rusty iron ought to become 
purified." He frequently visited the convent 
himself, and would preach on religious duties at 
the grate, exciting in the sisters, his most dear 
children, an ardent love for Jesus Christ, and 
special confidence in His Holy Mother. He 
particularly advised them to practise frequent 
communion, and by this means caused them to 


love prayer, and mortification, and led them into 
paths of the sublimest perfection. 

Virgins consecrated to God he considered the 
most precious portion of the flock entrusted to 
him. When he preached to them, he often spoke 
quite strongly about trivial faults, so that they 
remarked he went too far. " What shall I do? " 
said he smiling. " Ought I to have told the 
sisters they were saints? when one preaches, 
one may suppose things which do not yet exist." 
He enjoined abbesses and confessors to watch 
over the intercourse which took place at the 
grate, and wished to be informed of all disorders, 
however small, that he might remedy them im 
mediately, and as the nuns were strictly cloist 
ered, he did not wish them to be visited, except 
by relations of the first and second degrees. 

Alphonsus was extremely cautious in selecting 
confessors for convents. He weighed the 
gestures, the words, and searched into the very 
opinions of the candidate. He allowed the con 
fessor to receive some tokens of gratitude from 
the nuns on certain feast days, but would not 
tolerate the frequent giving of presents, and re 
quired all to be offered in the name of the com 
munity. Nothing gave him more delight than 
to see young virgins consecrate themselves to 
God. He aided them in every way, and left the 
most important business to assist at the ceremony. 
He accepted every invitation to a profession, 
whether of a choir or lay-sister, and never 
omitted to preach. " It is my privilege and my 
duty," said he, " to consecrate to God these 


victims of divine love." To stimulate their 
fervor, he gave his religious every possible 
advantage, introducing into their churches ex 
ercises calculated to increase in their hearts the 
love of God, as benediction, exposition, novenas, 
and a sermon in honor of the Blessed Virgin on 
Saturday evening. He often preached this ser 
mon himself in the convent chapel. 

He arranged that the nuns should have an 
extraordinary confessor whenever they asked for 
one, and he sent such confessors to all the 
convents every three months, whether asked 
for or not. In short, with regard to conscience, 
he insisted that religious should enjoy perfect 
liberty. " When a religious asks for a new con 
fessor," said he, " it is a sign she has not courage 
to open her heart to the usual confessor, and if 
there is a sin on her conscience, she may be led 
to commit a thousand sacrileges." He was 
deeply grieved on learning that a neighboring 
bishop was too cautious in granting these prive- 
leges, and that nuns absented themselves from 
the holy tribunal in consequence. Hearing that 
a regulation allowed the religious of a certain 
convent to write only to the ordinary confessor, 
he sent for the superior, and ordered, that this 
rule should be relaxed whenever any of the relig 
ious wished to apply to any confessor of well 
known probity. 

Although several instances of apparent severity, 
regarding the dismissal of subjects, are recorded 
in the memoirs of the saint, yet perhaps no founder 
of an order was ever more lenient in this respect. 


When urged by Father Tannoia, novice-master 
for twenty-four years, to consent to the dismis 
sal of a lay-brother, he wrote the following reply, 
which undoubtedly explains his own practice in 
this respect. 

" When once a subject is admitted to the 
noviciate, he should not be sent away without 
grave reason ; and when he has been admitted to 
profession, the reasons should be still more grave, 
and the subject incorrigible ; otherwise a superior 
sins mortally in expelling a subject." This 
deserves to be generally known. 

He endeavored to restore monastic discipline 
everywhere. Among the Franciscans of Ariola, 
the rules were so difficult that the nuns could 
not fully observe them. " He curtailed all that 
was too rigorous," said Sister Mary di Lucca, 
"and what he reformed was fully observed." 
In the new edition ol the rules which he had 
printed, one recognizes the spirit of St. Francis 
de Sales, for he condescends to every want, yet 
avoids effeminate indulgence. 

In connexion with this convent, he learned 
that the religious suffered great annoyances, 
because their revenues were collected and ad 
ministered by strangers, and purchases made 
in such a manner, that, with ample rent, the poor 
sisters were often without food or clothing. 
The saint appealed to the Prince of Riccia, and 
backed by this powerful noble, deprived the 
stewards of the convent money, and placed it in 
the hands of the abbess. He endeavored to 
establish community life everywhere, but wnen 


his designs were violently opposed, he tempo 
rized. " Calm yourselves," said he to the nuns 
on one of those occasions, " I proposed this 
measure for your good, but as you judge others 
wise, forget all I have said about it." So far 
from being offended with these religious, he paid 
them a fatherly visit the very next day, and 
made no allusion whatever to it- 
It was customary in a certain convent that 
when a young lady was clothed or professed, 
she should remain seated at the door during the 
rest of the day to receive the congratulations of 
her friends and relations. Seeing in this sense 
less custom an occasion of general dissipation, 
he ordered that neither the grate nor the door 
should be opened after dinner, and allowed 
exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, that the 
new bride of Christ might obtain of her Spouse 
abundant blessings. 

Again : when a candidate made the vows or 
took the habit, it was permitted her to dine in 
the parlor with the guests. This the saint en 
tirely abolished when two noble ladies, daughters 
of Lady Catherine di Lucca, made their pro 
fession. The guests he allowed to be entertained 
but the newly professed dined in the refectory 
with her sisters. 

The ritual of a convent in Arienzo stated that 
the novice should make her profession between 
the hands of the bishop, and, ridiculously 
enough, this was interpreted, literally : at a 
profession, the master of ceremonies explained 
it to the bewildered saint. " O Jesus ! " he 


exclaimed with unwonted impetuosity, "what 
has that to do with the vows? Let her keep her 
hands to herself and I will keep mine." He 
afterwards explained the true meaning of the 
phrase, and suppressed forever this foolish 

He next undertook to reform the music of 
the convents, and help to restore the grand and 
solemn Gregorian chant, by forbidding the 
flimsy music, with which bad taste had replaced 
it. "The church," said he, "is not a theatre, 
and religious are not opera singers." Besides, 
he did not wish the nuns to sing solos. The 
musicians, however, were not over scrupulous in 
carrying out his views. One evening, while a 
nun was singing the Litany of the Blessed 
Virgin to figured music, the bishop suddenly 
presented himself, and it was to no purpose that 
the artiste with much presence of mind, con 
tinued the words to a Gregorian air, for Alphon- 
sus himself was an accomplished musician, and 
possessed even in old age a voice of such refined 
culture and marvellous sweetness, that, when he 
sang, his auditors melted into tears. After a 
while, he approached the grate, and said, laugh 
ing : " You have been trying to deceive me, and 
that was not right, I forbade light music, because 
I thought it might attract young libertines to 
your church, which would be a source of numer 
ous irregularities." 

A daughter of a choir-conductor who was an 
excellent musician, applied for admission, and the 
saint not liking to refuse the nuns, consented, 


but prophesied that the musical novice would 
not persevere. The nuns soliciting the ad 
mission of another, also a musician, the saint 
consented, saying : " This one will not persevere 
any better." Both returned to their homes after 
a few months, and the nuns resolved to be 
satisfied with the plain chant in future. 

On one occasion when it was thought he 
would command two windows of a certain 
monastery, which looked into a house belonging 
to seculars to be closed, one of the religious 
openly resisted him, and threatened to appeal to 
the king. To this unexpected insult, the saint 
mildly replied : " Be tranquil, I do not wish to 
cause you any pain ; " after which, he dexter 
ously changed the subject, and the conversation 
went on peaceably. 

The Rochettines of Arienzo wishing to obtain 
purer air, asked leave to open a little belvidere 
above their church door. The bishop sent the 
Vicar General and two architects from Naples, 
to examine the place. When he heard that the 
proposed belvidere would look into the premises 
of the Augustinian Fathers, he immediately 
refused. The good religious were not at all 
offended at this, for, on reflection, they themselves 
saw the impropriety of their request. 

From time to time, the Pope had granted clois 
tered nuns permission to absent themselves from 
the convent. Some nuns were about to seek a 
similar dispensation, but Alphonsus warned them 
to abstain : " The Pope refers it to the ordinary," 
he said, " and I will never grant it. I know what 


a bad reputation these goings out have. The 
least evil which results from them is great dissi 
pation of mind." To the lady Catharine di Lucca 
who had leave from the Pope to spend one day 
in the year with her bedridden daughter in a 
cloistered convent, he sent the following message : 
" Tell Donna Catherine that I suspend the per 
mission for the present. The Pope can do what 
he pleases, but if he refers it to me, I cannot 
grant it, as others would seek the same privilege 
to the injury of enclosure." Some nuns com 
plained that they never got anything they asked 
from him, and that they had met with three re 
fusals consecutively. " Let them ask what is 
right," said he, " and I will be sure not to refuse 
them, but to unreasonable requests, I must give 
a decided refusal." 

Whenever any of the nuns wanted one of his 
fathers as extraordinary confessor, the favor was 
granted. Those at a distance from the father 
they wished to consult, could do so by letter, 
and it was the saint s wish that the father thus 
consulted should be allowed to respond. Father 
Villani, when rector, having refused a permission 
of this nature, the saint wrote to him immediately 
telling him to comply. So desirous was Alphonsus 
that these doves, whose office it is to hover about 
their heavenly spouse and sing his praises, should 
never know a moment s uneasiness which it was 
in his power to prevent. 

No saint ever did more for virgins consecrated 
to God, and for the religious state in general, than 
this great doctor. It is indeed doubtful if any 


other saint did so much. His writings reanimate 
and reform religious, console and fortify them, 
in every clime. The Nun sanctified, Exhortation 
to Religious to advance in the perfection of their 
State, Advice to Novices, Consideration on the Re 
ligious State, Advice regarding Religious Vocation, 
various admonitions to superiors, subordinates, 
lay-brothers, scattered through his rules, his 
circulars, his private letters, form a complete 
epitome of all that is necessary or useful for those 

In his sermons and instructions, he was ever 
urging the religious under his charge to heroic 
perfection. Frequent communion, even daily 
communion, became customary among them. 
He rigorously examined the confessors he sent 
them, lest the Jansenistic tendencies, then too 
common, should enter this cherished fold, and he 
knew well \vhat Jansenist confessors had done 
with all the convents in France to which they 
had gained access. The nuns under his juris 
diction never knew the want of any spiritual ad 
vantage. He himself was ever* ready to console 
and encourage the lowliest among them in mo 
ments of desolation or temptation. He received 
them, he professed them, he instructed them, he 
gave them retreats, he heard their confessions, 
in short, he wished that in all their necessities, 
spiritual and temporal, they should know they 
had in him a Father, whose greatest happiness 
was to assist his cherished children. But in 
proportion as he loved to see these dear spouses 
of Christ fervent and devoted to Jesus, he 


dreaded relaxation, and was wont to say, that 
it was easier for a soul to be saved amid the 
gayeties of the world than in a relaxed 
religious house. Severe judgment from the 
most enthusiatic advocate of convents that 
ever lived ; but, as Faber remarks, " few men 
have had such experience of these matters as 
good St. Alphonsus." 


Zeal for material temples. New persecutions. "The Truth of 
Faith." The saint goes to Naples. His urbanity. His 
episcopal hat. Accident. An easy victory. Apostolic labors. 
The Abbot at Regina Coeli. Christening of the saint s 
nephew. His labors among the lower classes. In convents. 
His sister Lady Marianna Liguori. His marvellous 

A SAINT so intensely devoted to the most 
Blessed Sacrament must naturally have inter 
ested himself in the material temples wherein 
Jesus reposed, veiled in the great mystery of his 
love. He rebuilt or repaired every church in 
his diocese that needed renovation, and spared 
no expense in decorating them. Several of the 
churches of the diocese from being little better 
in appearance than ruinous barns, became under 
his fostering care basilicas, worthy to rank with 
those which have gained the world s admiration 
in Rome and Naples. 

Paintings by the first masters, and statuary 
whose beauty could not fail to elevate the minds 
of the worshipers, became quite common in the 
days of our saint, who wished that the priceless 
gems of the great masters, of whom Italy has 
been so prolific, should be gathered in at any 
cost to beautify the house of God. Ornamented 
pillars, door-dressings, stuccoing, elegant orna 
ments of every kind supplied employment to 


architects and artists during the saint s episco 
pate and for many years after. Nor did he give 
less attention to the interior embellishments of 
the house of God. He required that the 
churches should be kept scrupulously clean, and 
the altars decorated with magnificence, or at 
least, becomingly. He was extremely particular 
about the altar linens, and insisted that they 
should be changed at stated intervals, and re 
moved as soon as they began to wear out. " I 
have never seen a priest allow soiled or worn 
linen at his table," he said, " everything they use 
for themselves is neat ; it is only for Jesus Christ 
that dirty things are allowed." He desired to 
see the altars profusely ornamented with flowers, 
and from his day it has been customary in his 
congregation to cultivate the rarest flowers to 
bloom and fade before the tabernacle. So 
accomplished a musician, could not fail to make 
stringent regulations regarding the singing of 
high mass and the chanting of the office, but he 
never favored what he called theatrical music. 
He loved the grave, dignified music of the 
Church, of which a true musician never wearies, 
and which fully answers the end of church 
music, to inspire or aid devotion. 

It was not the divine will, that our saint should 
sanctify himself in prosperity and peace. Per 
secutions thickened around him towards the 
close, and his last years were dragged wearily 
out, in misery and sorrow, but the joy of the 
Holy Ghost sustained him, and now " he re- 
membereth his anguish no more." His con- 


gregation was flourishing; its name and fame 
had reached distant lands, but hell instigated a 
new persecution against it. Some three years 
back, a difficulty occurred between the house at 
Illiceto, and Don Maffei, a proud, turbulent 
noble, about a certain fief then in litigation. 
The fathers remained neutral for peace sake, but 
Maffei was so incensed at their not taking sides 
with him that he swore to destroy the whole con 
gregation, saying : " He that is not with me is 
against me." Baron Sarnelli also cherished a 
secret resentment against them, because of the 
property bequeathed to Alphonsus by his brother, 
Father Sarnelli, of holy memory. Some mark 
of attention having been accidentally omitted in 
church towards his wife, the baroness, this was 
as the last drop which caused the vials of his 
wrath to overflow. Between Maffei and the 
baron, the Fathers were vilified in every part of 
the .kingdom. " If Don Maffei is offended," said 
the old bishop sadly, " I grieve for the poor 
house ! I know his dispositions, and what he 
caused the venerable Mgr. Lucci to suffer. May 
the good God deign to be our protector." 

He ordered fasts and prayers throughout the 
congregation, and recommended that discretion 
and charity should be exercised towards their 
adversaries, against whom no arms were to be 
used but prayer and observance of rule. 
" Behold my dear brothers," he wrote," how the 
Lord has visited us in these tribulations He 
chastises our negligence in regular observance 
but let us hope in His mercy; He will not per- 


mit the congregation to be destroyed. Let us 
appease the divine wrath by prayer, and by 
avoiding all voluntary transgressions, especially 
such as result from disobedience or non- 

Calumnies of the strangest description were 
everywhere circulated against the Fathers, and 
the rage of Maffei went so far that he appealed 
to the Supreme Court to deprive them of their 
rights of citizenship, as men who habitually plot 
ted against state and sovereign and led scandal 
ous lives ! The saint, besides urging his own 
spiritual sons to penance, solicited the prayers 
of several monasteries and holy persons at 
Naples. H,e also sent a great quantity of wax 
candles to the hermitages of Camaldoli, that 
they might expose the Blessed Sacrament and 
intercede for his congregation, and he sent 
several large alms to the Capuchin nuns entreat 
ing them to make novenas and other pious ex 
ercises for his intention. 

It was while this infamous persecution was 
going on, that the holy doctor published his 
great work in defence of the Church. " The 
Truths of Faith," which was received with uni 
versal applause. A canon of Naples in a report 
on this work addressed to Cardinal Sersale, 
wrote as follows : 

" Nothing can hinder or slacken the zeal of 
this apostolic man. In his devotion to the 
salvation of souls, he enters into the lists with 
indefatigable courage to maintain a generous 


combat for truth, despite the double burden 
of the episcopate and old age. In this book he 
has re-established the integrity of faith and 
morals among the faithful, to avenge the cal 
umnies of the wicked, and to scatter the dark 
ness of error. He completely overthrows all the 
dreams of materialists, deists and other impious 

Pope Clement XIII was extremely gratified 
on reading this great work and acknowledged 
the dedication (to himself) by a brief, testifying 
in flattering terms his high esteem for the ex 
traordinary learning of the great doctor. 

At the same time he published his useful 
" Instructions on the Decalogue, &c," which was 
and is highly prized by all who have at heart 
the instruction of the people. 

The disturbances regarding the houses of 
Illiceto and Ciorani increased to such a pitch 
that the fathers besought Alphonsus to go to 
Naples and confer with the minister Tanucci. 

He refused to leave his see, thinking that the 
business would be done as well by letter, and by 
friends in the capital, but Father Villani and 
some other father came to St. Agatha and with 
tears described the imminent danger of the Con 
gregation, adding that if he wished to save it 
from utter destruction, his presence in Naples 
was essential. Moved by their entreaties, and 
still more by their affliction, he borrowed a car 
riage and set out for the capital which he reached 
July 1 6. 



His first visit was to the Cardinal Archbishop, 
who having greeted him with utmost cordiality, 
inquired the cause of his unexpected presence in 
Naples. " My Congregation is passing through 
a crisis, your eminence," answered the saint, 
" our enemies wish to destroy it, but I rely on 
the omnipotent arm of God to sustain it." As 
he took leave, the Cardinal said : " Monsignor, 
you are Archbishop of Naples, you have all the 
power that I can confer, use it as you please." 

Prelates, canons, nobles, thronged the room 
of a man whom they regarded as an* honor and 
an ornament to their country. He was unable 
to acknowledge their profuse courtesies as he 
desired, and with that elegant urbanity which 
has always marked the dealings of the saints 
with their friends and benefactors, he begged 
them to excuse him, if, having come to Naples on 
urgent business, he reluctantly failed in any of 
the duties of politeness or civility. He accepted 
of his brothers hospitality, but declined the mag 
nificent state apartment that had been prepared 
for him, and took refuge in a lumber-room. He 
wore the habit of his Congregation, now so old 
and patched that it gave him the appearance of 
one of his townsmen, the lazzaroni. His shoes 
and hat were quite in keeping with the habit. 
Count Hercules was particularly annoyed at the 
hat, as the like had not been seen in Naples for 
years ; he abstracted it and put one of the cur 
rent fashion in its place. This made matters 
worse, as the saint had nothing to match this 
elegant addition to his scanty wardrobe, however 


he sold it, and having bought four common hats 
with the proceeds, gave three away and kept 
one for himself. As he had no cloak he used an 
old mantilla, but being told that it was unsuit 
able, he sent it to a pawnbroker and got an old 
cloak in exchange. It particularly annoyed him 
to be styled Excellency. " Come now," said he 
to a servant one day, " drop this word, I will 
not have it." " But you are a nobleman by 
birth," returned the servant, " it is only your 
hereditary title." " That is enough," said the 
saint shortly, * never let me hear it from you 
again," and he was obeyed. To a gentleman 
who observed that he carried humility too far, 
he replied: "Humility has never injured any 

The saint s mode of defending his beloved 
Congregation was such as to increase the esteem 
and veneration in which he was already held. 
He managed to justify the Fathers without in 
juring those who had calumniated them. But 
his very appearance in Naples had ruined the 
cause of his adversaries. They wished to sus 
pend the business indefinitely, but through the 
influence of Alphonsus, the eleventh of Septem 
ber was fixed for the discussion of the cause of 
Sarnelli. About this time the saint s carriage 
came into colision with another carriage. The 
windows were broken, the coachman wounded, 
our saint and his companion hurt severely but 
not dangerously. The Duchess of Pirelli, whose 
palace was at hand, sent for them, and after they 
had rested awhile, lent her own equipage to take 


them home. When this accident occurred, the 
poor bishop had the misfortune to lose his splen 
did new hat, and the wooden stick he used as a 
cane to his infinite regret, for they were not 
easily replaced. 

The royal court of St. Clare was in session, 
Sep. u, but no plaintiff appeared. One of the 
advocates alone came, but only to declare, that 
he had not courage to speak against a bishop 
whose sanctity was proclaimed by the whole 
kingdom. The saint was displeased that an op 
portunity had not been offered him of disproving 
one by one all the calumnies his enemies had 
been circulating, and which they were expected 
to produce in open court; but his triumph was 
all the greater, his very presence confounded his 

During his stay in Naples, the saint as usual 
occupied himself in waging war against sin, and 
planting virtues in the hearts of all with whom 
he came in contact. Among other good works, 
he thoroughly reformed the convent of the 
" Religious of the Wood." He put an end to all 
dissensions, restored perfect peace and harmony, 
and reestablished prayer, the frequent use of the 
holy Sacraments, and perfect observance. 

The superior of the Propaganda was desirous 
that the saint should preach the novena of the 
Assumption, but feared to ask this on account of 
his other great labors. A canon suggested that 
by his authority as superior he could obtain 
what he desired, the holy bishop being still a 
member of the Congregation of the Propaganda. 


When the order reached him, he bent his head 
and said : " Pray that the Blessed Virgin may 
give me strength, for I have not time to prepare 
any thing ; you must be satisfied with what God 
and Our Lady will deign to suggest to me," 
And never had an audience been better satisfied. 

One evening the saint s servant was obliged to 
use the carriage of Don Hercules for his master, 
but lest the latter would persist in going on foot 
rather than ascend such an elegant vehicle, old 
harness was put on the horses and old covering 
on the seats, which caused the bishop and his 
equipage to present a singular if not ridiculous 
appearance. The novena was wonderfully bless 
ed. Every day the cardinal assisted, and could 
not refrain from weeping at the touching specta 
cle of a whole congregation in contrition. It 
was said that ten missions would not have effect 
ed so many conversions. Already was the man 
of God revered as a saint. Pieces were cut off 
from his garments, and Mgr. Bergamo deemed 
himself fortunate in being able to exchange his 
hat for another. He attempted also to take his 
rosary, but Alphonsus missed it and asked for it, 
on account of the indulgences attached to it. 

On the eve of the Assumption he went to visit 
the Blessed Sacrament in the church of the con 
vent Regina Cceli. It happened that three 
abbots were officiating pontifically while the 
nuns were chanting vespers, and when one of 
them recognized Monsignor Liguori. " Just 
look at that bishop," said he, " does he not dis 
grace his character." But the prince of Monte 


Miletto was not of the same opinion. Despite 
the shabby garments of the saint, he approached, 
knelt to kiss his hand with every demonstration 
of reverence. The Duke of Andria and other 
noblemen present offered the same homage, hav 
ing more correct discernment than the Abbots. 
When the Carmelites commenced the devotions 
of the Wednesdays in honor of St. Teresa, 
Alphonsus attended, but sat on an humble bench 
among the people. The Fathers presented him 
with an easy-chair and a velvet cushion, but the 
saint declined all marks of distinction, as was his 

The gifts of knowledge, counsel and prophecy 
were often made evident in our saint. A 
daughter of the Duchess of Bovino was about to 
marry, and sent her mother to ask his prayers : 
"No, no," said he, "she will not marry. God 
will detach her from the world and draw her to 
himself." The duchess no sooner returned home 
than a note was handed her from her daughter 
stating that it was her intention to enter a 

During our saint s stay in Naples, his sister- 
in-law gave birth to a son, whom he was asked 
to baptize. While the ceremony progressed, 
an attendant priest continually addressed Al 
phonsus as " Excellency." At last his annoy 
ance found vent in this mild rebuke : " Rever 
end sir, if you wish to style me most illustrious, 
you can do so, but you would oblige me very 
much by using the simplest language in address 
ing me." 


The indefatigable bishop preached for the con- 
fraternity of coachmen, footmen and other domes 
tics. His dear brethren of the chapels, among 
whom was his old penitent Barbarese, had -the 
intense gratification of hearing him once more. 
He also preached, at the request of the worthy 
men at the head of the guild of saddlers, to an 
immense concourse of the lowest classes. They 
besought him to preach the novena of our Lady s 
Nativity, and he refused no request of these 
humble disciples and fervent admirers. He 
preached to three hundred orphans by special 
request, but this did not end his labors. The 
people not only crowded about the church in 
which he officiated, but thronged his house, 
though for want of enough of chairs, most of 
them had to sit on the floor; and his loving 
kindness to these poor people won him the 
admiration of all Naples. He visited almost 
every convent in Naples, preached to the nuns, 
and heard the confessions of any who wished to 
come to him. But here he practised his custom 
ary humility, for when the first religious asked 
him to hear her, he applied to the cardinal 
for faculties, although his Eminence had al 
ready given him the fullest power to preach, 
confirm, officiate, and in fact, do what he 

Shortly after this, our saint had an affliction in 
connection with his sister, Lady Mariana Liguori, 
a nun in the convent of St. Jerome, which did 
not grieve him the less because it happened 
to be a realization of his own prophecy. This 


lady suffered much from scruples, and as she 
would not submit to her director, the only cure 
for one in her condition, the saint predicted 
that she would die crazy, which happened soon 
after. Of the Princess Zurlo, who wished to 
become a nun, he said : " No, she will return to 
the world and lead a saintly life there." Of an 
other young lady, he said to an over-zealous 
relative : " Leave her alone, the convent is not 
for her ; she is not fit for it, nor does she want 
to go there." 

Alphonsus was totally free from human re 
spect. He acted in the same manner towards 
convents for the rustic and the penitent, and 
visited them as frequently as convents for women 
of noble birth, or rather he gave the former the 
preference. He was accustomed to visit the 
sick and infirm in all monasteries, especially such 
nuns as had once been his penitents. Indeed he 
preached for all religious societies whenever he 
was asked, and, faithful to his own instructions, 
he preached Jesus Christ in such a manner as to 
cause an audience of priests to exclaim : " A true 
apostle! thanks to God for having given us a 
bishop of the primitive age ! " In his sermons, 
heart spoke to heart, both preacher and auditors 
were so absorbed as to be utterly unconscious of 
the extraordinary eloquence that renewed upon 
the earth the marvels of conversion and contri 
tion which were as " the first fruits of the spirit " 
in the days of the apostles. 

Although the saint, like his Divine Master, went 
about doing good, and heaven visibly blessed his 


unceasing labors, yet he counted the moments 
until he could return to his diocese, the spouse, 
as he said, that God had given him to cherish. 
" Were it not for the interests of my persecuted 
Congregation," said he, " which labors so suc 
cessfully for God s glory and the salvation of 
souls, I should believe that I sinned mortally in 
remaining so long in Naples." Not a day passed 
on which he did not receive a courier from his 
diocese, and regulated from afar its now prosper 
ous affairs. The business that brought him had no 
sooner reached a successful issue than he replied 
to those who would have urged him to remain a 
little longer that he might preach other sermons 
and novenas, " Jesus Christ no longer wishes me 
at Naples: St. Agatha is my place." 

On one occasion he went to the Prince della 
Riccia to procure through his influence the admis 
sion of a woman who had been in his service, into 
the refuge of St. Raphael ; but the valet said the 
prince was absent, attending on the king. A 
soldier of the Italian guard seeing the neglected 
appearance of the saint, who, except as regarded 
personal cleanliness, took little pains to keep up 
his dignity in externals, remarked to a comrade : 
" Look at that shabby lord ; he has not a penny 
to get himself shaved." Alphonsus smiled and 
said : " I thank Thee, oh Lord, for allowing me 
to be censured even by soldiers." A second time 
also, he was unable to see the prince. On a 
third visit the secretary suspecting the real cause 
of these refusals, slipped some money into the 
valet s hands and lo, the prince was at home. He 


was very angry when he learned that he had been 
denied to the saint, and immediately did all that 
was requisite for the penitent woman, so that the 
saint had the consolation of seeing yet another 
of his straying sheep, in a place of safety. 


The saint leaves Naples. His Emotion. Letter. Unreasonable 
complaints. Calumnies. Letter to Father Villani. Faultfind 
ing. The meekest of bishops accused of rigor. Incident. 
Murmurs against his works. His reply. Illness. He makes 
his will. Sufferings. His tedious convalescence. The most 
zealous doctor. New literary labors. Treatise for men. He 
again appeals to the Pope to ease him of the burden of the 

OUR saint left Naples, after a busy sojourn of 
two months and three days, with a firm convic 
tion that he would never again return to that 
dear city, in which he had so often tasted the 
ecstacy of joy as well as the anguish of grief. 
When he visited for the last time his beloved 
church of Our Lady of Mercy, where he had 
received so many graces, graces that had been 
the turning points in his life, recollections of 
his early struggles and successes, of the joys and 
sorrows of his marvellous vocation, rushed upon 
his mind and for the moment completely over 
whelmed him. Raising his tearful eyes towards 
Mary, his Mother, towards that dear image of 
OUR LADY OF MERCY through which miracles 
had been wrought in his favor, his emotion 
became incontrollable : " O my Queen!" he ex 
claimed, in broken accents, " we shall meet no 
more in Naples, but we shall see each other 
again in Paradise! " 


He reached Arienzo September 19, 1767, his 
mission to the capital having been entirely suc 
cessful. He was now firmly resolved to leave 
his diocese no more, unless, indeed, the Sovereign 
Pontiff, in consideration of his years and infirmi 
ties might allow him to retire to the bosom of 
his beloved Congregation, and prepare to render 
to the Chief Pastor of Souls, an account of his 
stewardship; a hope he fondly cherished. 
" Tell my brother, Count Hercules," he wrote 
from St. Agatha, to his man of business in 
Naples, " that he may freely dispose of the apart 
ments which he reserves for me, because I shall 
return thither no more." 

The extraordinary vigilance of our saint in 
the government of his diocese gained universal 
approbation, the Pope himself was accustomed 
to cite him as a model bishop. The people 
regarding him less as a man than an angel, were 
sometimes unreasonable enough to fancy that he 
was capable of annihilating sin in his diocese, 
and hence they loudly criticised the least disorder. 
The murmurs reached Naples, and a certain 
respectable religious of that city condemned 
several regulations made by Alphonsus, of which 
he had heard. Being asked to justify himself, 
the saint replied : " There is no need of my 
doing so ; St. Francis de Sales, Father Torres 
and so many others have declined to defend them 
selves Tell me where is there a diocese 

to which nothing is wanting ?....! cannot 
avoid these reproaches ; besides, they are useful 
for my spiritual welfare, by humbling me through 


the contempt and disfavor I meet with. I should 

be delighted if Father N. would come to see 

me ; then he could see the real state of things." 
The religious really did visit the saint, and not 
only was undeceived, but from that period be 
came his warmest panegyrist. 

The saint liked to hear whatever was said in 
dispraise of him, and Father Villani who tenderly 
loved him, was always careful to let him know 
of every complaint he heard, that he might be 
always on his guard, for open enemies and 
deceitful friends were never wanting. A priest 
on one occasion having informed him of an in 
jurious report circulated against him, he wrote 
in reply : " I thank you for the information your 
letter conveyed. These things serve to maintain 
me the more in humility and vigilance." 

It was next affirmed that his reputation had 
become so low in Rome that the Pope was by 
no means proud of having made him a bishop. 
This report pained the Congregation deeply, 
and no doubt touched the heart of the saint at 
his most sensitive point. " I do not know," he 
wrote to Father Villani, " how I could have been 
more careful. I always note down in writing 
all that has to be done for the present day and 
the following, and when any business connected 
with the diocese is in question, I leave every 
thing else to attend to it. Every one who knows 
me knows this, God will do the rest, but after 
all, this will only enable me to get my resignation 
accepted the more easily." 

Again, our saint, the great model of episcopal 


meekness was accused of exercising too much 
rigor in his government. But he kept the even 
tenor of his way, whether he was accused of 
superfluous meekness or superfluous severity. 
41 Human respect/ said one who knew him well, 
" could never succeed in influencing Monsignor 
Liguori," One day, several gentlemen were dis 
cussing the case of a priest whom they alleged 
to have been unjustly banished. Yet the offences 
of this priest were of a grave character, but our 
saint had thrown the cloak of charity over them 
for the love of God. When he heard that he 
had been censured for his action in this matter as 
he had never particularized the offences for which 
he banished the delinquent, he smiled, but not a 
word escaped him. That he might taste the bit 
terness of the cross in every form, some, and even 
those of his own Congregation, carped at the pub 
lication of the wonderful works which in our 
day have gained him the title of Doctor, as though 
he neglected the care of his diocese to compose 
them. Being informed of this, the saint wrote 
thus to Father Villani : 

" In reply to those who regard my labors of the 
pen as a crime, I could remind them that the 
bishops most celebrated for zeal, published works 
while ruling their diocese, as St. John Chrysostom, 
St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Francis de Sales, 
and many others. In winter I am forced to keep 
my room, and I see no society. I make medita 
tion three times a day, I make an hour s thanks 
giving after mass, as well as a spiritual lecture, 


at least when not hindered by some urgent duty. 
Afterwards I endeavor to turn to profit my few 
moments of leisure by laboring at things which 
I consider useful." 

Even the expenses which his works were 
supposed to entail works worth a million times 
more than their weight in gold, or rather im 
measurably beyond all earthly price, excited 
the disaffected and called forth their murmurs. 
It is superfluous to say that the holy doctor did 
not write to make money, yet he brought out his 
works without any pecuniary loss. His own let 
ters to his publishers prove this. But when we 
consider the utility of his hundred volumes, not 
a line of which is without its use, works written 
for the most part to supply the wants which he 
himself discovered, in those whose ignorance 
would become the ruin of their flock, or to 
defend the doctrine and discipline of the Church 
of Christ against powerful and numerous 
adversaries we can well imagine the anguish 
which these censures must have caused his sensi 
tive heart. It was a consolation to him, as it is 
pleasant to us to recall, that Clement XIII, 
far from sharing the sentiments of these ignoble 
murmurers, encouraged the saint in his liter 
ary labors, by assuring him that his works 
were useful not only to his diocese but to the 
whole Church. But the saint was not to be 
deterred by the grumblings of these petty, we 
had almost said, contemptible, spirits. He wrote 
solely for the glory of God and the good of the 
Church, and his works remain to praise him in 


the gate. Could these narrow-minded murmur 
ers but have foreseen the day when in considera 
tion of these very works, the delight, the 
edification and the glory of the Church, over 
eight hundred prelates of Christendom would 
petition the Holy See to place the name of Al- 
phonsus de Liguori, in the short but illustrious 
category of DOCTORS OF THE CHURCH ! 

The year 1768 had other troubles in store 
for our saint ; for God overwhelms with suf 
ferings those whom He designs to elevate to 
high sanctity, and this is the explanation of the 
chain of spiritual and corporal sufferings which 
traversed his long career. He was almost 
seventy-two years old when he was attacked 
by a violent fever, which, after three days, sud 
denly disappeared to give place to a sciatica 
arising from rheumatic tendencies, of which he 
gives the following account in his letter to 
Rev. Father Villani, his director : 

" i am continually tormented with internal 
pains, so that I am only half alive ; the pain 
seems to fix itself in the hip-bone. Blessed be 
God who has sent me this suffering! It will 
be difficult for me to make the visitation this 
year. The physicians no longer know what to 
think of my case. I place myself in the hands 
of God to bear my cross as long as it shall 
please Him." 

He strove, however, to preach the novena 
of the Assumption, and, despite his suffering, he 
succeeded in crawling to the pulpit. But on 


the sixth day, the pain became so intolerable 
as to render it impossible for him to go on. 
He had to go to his bed once more, but even 
here it was only the body that rested. He 
administered the affairs of his diocese, dictated 
his works, and continued to direct the ordinary 
exercises of his household. 

As no relief could be obtained, it was pro 
posed to him to send to Naples for a physician, 
but, as usual, he would employ only those of 
his own diocese, and when those who loved 
him disobeyed him in this matter, his counte 
nance plainly showed how much he suffered. 

Every one was affected by the tender piety 
of the saint, which found vent in the most 
touching ejaculations to Jesus and Mary. But 
he seemed quite confounded that he had not, 
as he affirmed, corresponded to their goodness. 
To a Father of his Congregation, who was about 
to say mass, he said with profound humility : 
" Pray that God may be merciful towards me." 
His confidence being chastened by a holy fear 
which made him tremble at the thought of the 
judgments of God, he repeated from time to 
time : " Enter not into judgment with Thy ser 
vant, O Lord, but deal with him according to 
Thy mercy." Having received the last Sacra 
ments, he made his will on the 26th of August. 
He would not have had anything to bequeath 
had not two farmers of the episcopal demense 
just paid his steward four hundred and twenty- 
three ducats. He ordained that this sum should 
be deposited with the archpriest Romano, who 


was to devote a certain portion to have masses 
celebrated for his soul, another to the poor, and 
the rest to be distributed to his servants, in token 
of his gratitude for their services, two hours 
after his death. He wished that his body should 
repose in his cathedral. 

As the fever abated, his pains increased until 
they became so violent, that being unable to 
remain in bed, he was obliged to get into an 
arm-chair, but he was unable to rest anywhere. 
As he could not help himself in the least, and 
was at times unable even to move, his sufferings, 
though they elicited no groan from himself 
caused his attendants to shed tears of compas 
sion. " Lord," he would exclaim, " I thank thee 
for having given me some share in the sufferings 
Thou didst endure in Thy nerves when Thou 
wast nailed to the Cross. I wish to suffer, dear 
Jesus, as Thou pleasest, and as much as Thou 
pleasest, only give me patience. Here burn, here 
cut, but spare me for eternity. Poor damned 
souls, Kow can you suffer without merit ! My 
Jesus Thou art my only hope, the sole remedy 
for all my ills!" 

As death seemed to approach, he would cry 
out joyfully : " O how good it is to die fastened 
to the cross! The poor who love God die 
more content than the rich of this world." As 
he was tormented by want of sleep, he said : 
" I should like to have a little repose, but God 
does not will it; well, I am glad to dispense 
with this comfort." And casting his eyes on his 
poor bed, he exclaimed : " O my paliasse, thou 


art worth more than all the thrones in the 
world ! " 

Terrible were his sufferings when the rheu 
matic or neuralgic affections to which he was a 
martyr settled in the vertebras of the neck. His 
head bent over his chest to such an extent that, 
viewed from behind, he seemed almost headless. 
The beard pressed into the skin by the weight 
resting upon the chin, made a painful wound in 
the breast, and when the surgeons endeavored to 
raise the head, they were obliged to desist lest 
they might break his neck. By stretching him 
on a sofa, however, they were able to examine 
the wound but as it almost bared the bone, they 
had considerable difficulty in preventing morti 
fication. During the remaining seventeen years 
of the saint s life, his head continued to rest on 
his chest, in which position his later pictures al 
ways represent him. 

During this cruel malady his patience was 
superhuman : " Through a mass of pains," said 
Father Raphael, Provincial of the Alcantarins, 
" he never uttered the slighest complaint. A 
look towards heaven, a fervent aspiration such 
were the signs of unusual suffering ; but through 
all, he expressed himself so calmly that all 
present were confounded." A surgeon from 
Naples could not conceive how he suffered these 
terrific pains with unalterable serenity. 

" Had I to endure such tortures," said he, 
" I should become frantic." 

At last the saintly invalid was removed from 
the sofa to his poor bed. For nearly fifty days 


he remained almost immovable in the only posi 
tion he could adopt, a position at once painful 
and uneasy. Through all this anguish, he 
verified the words of St. Augustine, that he who 
loves does not suffer. His obedience to the 
orders of physicians was remarkable. " Let us 
obey them/ said he, "and then resign ourselves 
to die." He never showed the slightest re 
pugnance to any remedy, however painful 01 
disagreeable. One day he said to a doctor. 
"At my advanced age what can I hope for? I 
obey you that I may do God s will in doing 

Our saint was not only serene but joyous, in 
his sufferings. A priest having asked how he 
passed the night, he laughingly replied : " I chase 
flies by day, and I catch spiders all night." To a 
canon he once pleasantly remarked : " People 
have called me a cripple so often that I am 
caught at last." " There," he exclaimed on 
another occasion, slightly raising his head " that 
is the ne plus ultra, my head can do no more." 

Despite his agonizing sufferings, he neglected 
none of his customary exercises. It was in his 
room that his household assembled every night 
to recite the rosary, the litany and other 
prayers. During a great part of the day, the 
Lives of the Saints were read to him by a priest 
or by Brother Anthony. The affairs of his diocese 
he administered with his ordinary diligence. He 
desired that every parish in it should receive the 
benefit of a mission this year, and entreated 
Father Villani and several heads of Congrega- 


tions in Naples to send an extraordinary rein 
forcement of laborers into his vineyard. 

"What astonished me most," said a canon, 
" was that he not only never ceased to watch and 
labor for the good of souls, but even extended 
his zeal beyond the limits of his own diocese." 
Having learned that a bishop had done some 
thing detrimental to the glory of God and the 
salvation of souls, he sent him a letter by an ex 
press to draw his attention to the error. " It is 
thus, my dear Benedict," he remarked to me, 
" that we are obliged to aid each other," 

Amid these pains and labors, he prepared 
for the press that admirable work entitled THE 
which he but lays bare the sentiments that in 
flamed his own great heart. Knowledge, piety, 
and ardent zeal and the special characteristics of 
this beautiful book, every page of which tells us 
to avoid sin, to love our dearest Lord, to refer all 
our actions to Him, with the superhuman elo 
quence and peculiar unction characteristic of the 
devotional works of our Most Zealous Doctor. 

His convalescence was painful and tedious. 
He was obliged to walk about on crutches, 
supported by two persons, but reaped no particu 
lar benefit from this clumsy mode of taking 
exercise. On the 2nd of November 1768, he tells 
Father Villani, that he is still incapable of mov 
ing, but he adds : " However, my head is clear, 
and by God s grace, I am cheerful and resigned." 
He composed at this time a work against a writer 
in Naples who had attacked the authority of the 


Church and her immunities, but never published 
it, as Father Villani, on account of several circum 
stances, advised him not to have it printed. He 
published an excellent treatise ON THE CERE 
MONIES OF THE MASS, in which he clearly ex 
pounds all the rubrics to be observed, enlarges 
upon the defects most commonly committed in 
this respect, and urges upon all priests the ab 
solute necessity of making the preparation and 
thanksgiving so august a mystery demands. 

As his sufferings every day became more and 
more acute, he wrote a touching letter to the 
Sovereign Pontiff, begging to be released from 
the burden of the episcopate, yet as before, pro 
testing that he would regard the will of the Pope 
as the will of God. This letter was forwarded in 
December 1768, but it is probable it never reach 
ed the hands of Clement XIII, who passed to a 
better life early in 1769. 


The new Pope, Cardinal Ganganelli. The Congregation persecuted 
in Sicily. Interesting Letter of the Saint. His Moral Theology 
again attacked. Increased alarm of the saint regarding his 
houses in Sicily. Incident. Letters. The saint refuses to 
moderate his zeal. Remarkable cure. Accidents. "An old 
carriage, an old coachman, old horses, and an old Bishop." 
Recreations. He resumes the daily celebration of mass. 
Regularity and austerity of bis life. 

PENDING the election of a pope, the saint ordered 
all his priests to say daily the prayer Pro eligendo 
summo Pontifice, and he recommended all the 
persons who visited him to pray that God would 
grant a worthy pastor to his church. " After 
God," said he, " is the Pope. Without him, in 
what confusion should we not be ! It is the 
Pope who makes known to us the will of God, 
and puts our consciences in peace." 

When he heard that Cardinal Ganganelli was 
elected, he wrote him a congratulatory letter, in 
which he extols his learning, his piety and his 
zeal for our holy religion. He dedicated to the 
new Pope his great work on dogmatics, a com 
pliment which Clement XIV appreciated so high 
ly that he thanked the aged author in a special 
brief. It is a proverb that troubles never come 
singly. While our saint was nailed to his bed of 
pain, a violent persecution arose against his 
Fathers in Sicily, where they had been previously 


so much valued and honored, that he had written 
more than once to the Superior: " This univer 
sal applause makes me tremble." But the Sicilian 
Missionaries could no longer complain of having 
no share of the cross. Their revenues were 
sequestered, their acts calumniated, their doc 
trines branded as heretical. " I have received the 
sad tidings you sent me," wrote the saint to 
Father Blasucci, " but no, nothing can be sad 
God wills. He wishes to mortify us, may His 
name be blessed forever ! What I beg above all 
is, that you do not lose confidence in Jesus Christ. 
If turned out of your house, rent another. You 
must not yield too soon ; on the contrary you 
must persevere until God shows you that he 
no longer wills you to be at Girgenti. At the 
worst, there will be fewer missions, ^>ut you will 
never want a morsel of bread. Wait and see 
what the deputies will do, what steps the new 
bishop will take ; and, above all, what God s 
will may be. I am crippled from head to foot, 
but I bless God, and thank Him for having given 
me peace and patience." 

As Alphonsus learned that his Moral Theology 
was attacked on this occasion, he wrote to all the 
bishops of Sicily in justification of his doctrine. 
He also represented the true state of things to 
the Marquis of Fogliani, Viceroy of Palermo, 
who in reply eulogized the virtues and learning 
of the great prelate. 

This wound was not healed when a new mis 
fortune increased his alarm regarding his children 
in Sicily. In the seminary of Mgr. Lanza, the 


new bishop, there was a wolf in sheep s clothing, 
whose blasphemous doctrines, secretly dissemi 
nated, compelled the good prelate to withdraw 
his faculties as confessor, and dismiss him. As 
Father Blasucci had been chosen by the bishop 
as his confessor and theologian, the degraded 
priest blamed him for his dismissal and vowed 
vengeance against the Congregation. Having 
gained several influential persons to his side, he 
presented himself at the royal junta of the viceroy 
and the president, declaring that he had been 
persecuted by the missionaries, because he had 
deemed it a duty to oppose the heresies they 
were promulgating, to the prejudice of souls. 

Although Mgr. Lanza immediately undertook 
the defence of the Fathers, and gave the true 
character of their infamous calumniator, yet 
many who had heard the accusations, knew 
nothing of the refutation, and their dismissal 
from the island was confidently spoken of, to the 
dismay of many pious persons, who fasted, 
prayed, caused masses to be said, and gave 
abundant alms, that God might avert so great 
a calamity. Alphonsus urged the members of his 
Congregation to be humble and respectful 
towards all, to be patient and silent, and if the 
truth must be made known, to declare it, with 
out injuring those who had shown such perfidy 
towards them. " I put all my confidence in 
God," he wrote, " He will protect us as He 
has always protected His Holy Church, per 
secuted throughout all ages. Let us act towards 
God as we ought, and He will comfort us." An 



" apology," written by Father Blasucci with 
spirit and energy, undeceived the royal ministers, 
and helped to produce a calm, but a treacherous 
calm, as we shall subsequently see. Our saint 
testified the most lively gratitude towards God, 
and wrote to his children ; " We see that Jesus 
Christ has lovingly defended us against the 
efforts of hell. Thank Him, and thank Mary 
who has protected us in a special manner. ... I 
recommend to all the perfect observance of the 
rules. Remember that we are surrounded by 
enemies who wish to work our utter ruin they 
will speedily succeed if our conduct is not what 
it ought to be. I pray God to protect with His 
omnipotent arm this mission so advantageous to 

" The prayers of Monsignore Liguori," said Fa 
ther Drago, an eminent Oratorian, to the mis 
sionaries, " will protect the house at Girgenti. 
Have confidence. God will change your confu 
sion into glory, and after these reverses, your Con 
gregation will be more honored than ever in the 
Island of Sicily." 

The saint meanwhile continued to work and 
pray as heretofore. " If it has been said of St. 
Jerome," remarked a venerable ecclesiastic who 
visited him, "that he triumphed over his 
maladies by reading and writing incessantly ; if 
there is reason to marvel at the voluminous writ 
ings of St. Gregory who never enjoyed good 
health, the holy bishop of St. Agatha may well 
excite admiration in the highest degree, because 
of the numberless works he accomplished when 


: rj a worse state than even St. Jerome or St. 
Gregory endured." 

Friends and admirers of the heroic old man 
besought Father Villani as his director to 
moderate his labors, but he mildly replied : " I 
do not think I ought to remain idle. I could 
employ myself in reading instead of dictating, 
but my head would gain nothing by that. When 
I have read for twenty minutes or half an hour, 
I can do no more. Besides I do not neglect my 
devotions. But there are many days which are 
entirely taken up with the affairs of my diocese, 
and while the visitation goes on I leave my writ 
ings to slumber. I enter into all these details 
with your reverence, that I may obtain your 

On account of the unnatural curvature of the 
saint s neck, it was a martyrdom for him to eat, 
and nearly impossible to drink. It was only by 
means of a quill or pipe that he could imbibe 
liquid nourishment. One of the lay-brothers 
made him a wooden pipe, but it was found that 
silver alone as a still more precious metal was 
not to be thought of, could transmit hot 
drinks without splitting or rusting. A silver 
smith made him a silver pipe, but was obliged to 
pretend that it was of some less precious metal, as 
the saint would be horrified at the idea of using 
anything so costly. It pained him to be unable to 
visit his dear sick, though he procured zealous 
priests to supply his place, and sent them every 
thing needful. Hearing that a poor cloistered 
nun had met with an accident that rendered her 


unable to leave her room, though she was still 
able to knit and sew, he assigned her a pension 
of five carlins a month. When Fatner Morgillo 
of the Pious Workmen broke his leg ana enaured 
dreadful sufferings for ten days from the unskil 
ful manner in which the bone was reset, 
Alphonsus sent a servant to him with a little 
picture of the Blessed Virgin, telling him to have 
confidence, for Mary would obtain his cure. The 
sick man placed the picture on his face saying: 
44 My Queen ! by the merits of Bishop Liguori 
deliver me from this torture/* and he was cured 
from that instant. Father Morgillo ever 
after honored the picture as a relic of the saintly 
prelate from whom he had received it. 

The doctors seeing the body of the saint 
almost entirely paralyzed and his mind devoted 
to study, ordered that he should drive out daily. 
But this prescription did not please him. " The 
money a carriage and horses would cost me," 
said he, " ought to be employed in relieving the 
poor." Yet a poor carriage was procured which 
he was informed, was a present from Don 
Hercules. The horses and harness were quite in 
keeping with the carriage ; so that the wits of 
Arienzo sometimes amused themselves at his ex 
pense. "An old bishop," said they, "on old 
coachman, an old carriage, and old horses." His 
drives afforded him but little pleasure. If the 
wheels came in contact with a stone, it was 
torture to the invalid, whose head was so to say 
dislocated by every jolt. Once the carriage was 
upset, and it seemea miraculous that the iall did 


not kill him. Brother Antony and the servant 
lifted him up, and some poor woman who per 
ceived him, moved with compassion, lent him a 
chair. Frequently a shaft or something else 
broke, and he had to wait in the middle of the 
street till the damage was repaired. One of the 
horses had singular habits : after various contor 
tions of his stubborn head, he would suddenly 
lie down, and refuse to get up again till he had 
been pulled by the ears for a long time. The 
incapacity of the poor coachman multiplied the 
accidents ; either he did not see what was in the 
way, or else, did not know how to avoid 
obstructions, so he was sure to dash against 
something at almost every step. But the 
bishop, to whom these drives must have been 
anything but pleasure trips, never thought of 
changing coachman, carriage or horses. 

Not to lose a moment, at the beginning of these 
charming recreations he would recite certain 
prayers, and then have a spiritual book read to 
him. He most frequently went to St. Mary de 
Vico, where he visited the Blessed Sacrament, 
and excited the people to devotion by a fervid 
exhortation. When helped back to the carriage, 
the reading was resumed, and the book was not 
closed till he reentered the palace court. Even 
in his bed, the watch was always before him, and 
he often prolonged his studies till midnight, 
especially in summer. 

After some time he became scrupulous about 
the expenses of this elegant equipage, and wished 
all to be sold for the benefit of the poor ; and 


this would certainly have been done despite the 
representations of the grand vicar and the 
doctors, had not Father Villani commanded him 
to desist. 

For more than two years the saint was unable 
to celebrate mass, and this without doubt was 
the greatest privation he ever experienced. He 
was however daily present at mass and received 
Holy Communion from the officiating priest. 
One day, Father Marcorio an Augustinian came 
to invite him to preach in the church of St. 
Augustine, and the saint after having accepted 
the invitation, exclaimed : " Oh, if I could only 
celebrate mass in your church as well as preach, 
what a consolation it would be for me ! " The 
Augustinian pitying his intense affliction, told 
him that necessity dispensed him from the less 
essential rubrics, and that by placing himself on 
a chair, he could easily partake of the sacred 
contents of the chalice. These words caused 
him the greatest joy, and he could not cease 
thanking the priest who had suggested such a 
happy expedient. From this time he said mass 
every day, and obtained permission from Rome 
to say the mass of the Blessed Virgin at all 

As he was exact in observing the rubrics, he 
used to bend his knee until it touched the plat 
form, which rendered his genuflections very 
painful, for he could not raise the knee again 
without aid, and when mass was over he was 
quite-exhausted. But his devotion was so great 
that the seraphic ardors of his soul gleamed on 


his countenance. In thanksgiving 1 he would hear 
the mass of his chaplain, and at the Et incarnatus 
est, he always fell to the ground in humble 
adoration, as he did also at the consecration. 

Such was the condition of our saint during 
the remainder of his episcopate. " His life was 
so austere and so regulated," says one of his 
Fathers, " that I suffered when sharing it with 
him at Arienzo, though I was then but thirty 
three years old. As for the bishop, notwith 
standing his great infirmities, he never appeared 
to be fatigued." 


Ever increasing zeal of the saint. The Seminary. The Visitation 
of 1769. The saint does more than a hundred ordinary 
bishops. He defends his Grand Vicar. He is accused 
to the King. Letter. The saint defends his conduct. 
Reply of the King. The saint s conduct towards his calum 
niator. Absurdity of the charges preferred against the bishops. 

WHILE overwhelmed with physical sufferings 
the saint never neglected the concerns of his 
diocese. He caused his bed to be placed in a 
room where all could come to him, and the door 
was open to every one, the only priveleged class 
being his priests and the poor. Every day he 
seemed to increase in solicitude ; if he heard of 
any disorder, he knew no rest until he had con 
certed measures for its removal. " You see the 
state in which I am," he would say to his priests, 
" if you fail to inform me of disorders, you will 
be responsible for their evil results, and I my 
self will accuse you before the tribunal of God." 
" He took neither food nor rest," says his grand 
vicar, " until he saw the evil which was reported 
to him cut down to the roots, and when any 
thing of this kind was in question, the only meal 
"he took was supper." 

His interest in his seminary rather increased 
than diminished. Several times a week he 
inquired concerning all that was done there, and 
when he received information detrimental to any 


seminarian, he caused him to be reproved, and 
if this was not followed by amendment, the 
delinquent was expelled ; so that the young men 
were more afraid of displeasing their bishop 
when he was a paralytic, unable to move from 
his bed than when he was up and well. He 
spared nothing that could conduce to the health, 
comfort and happiness of the pupils, but his 
vigilance over their morals and his severity to 
wards candidates for ordination and for the fa 
culties of confessors, redoubled in his latter 
years, because, as he said, he did not wish to 
give his successors occasion to weep over sin. 

He opened in person the Visitation, on the 
2nd. of July 1769, in the collegiate church of 
Arienzo, being helped thither and supported 
by the servants. The audience were affected 
to tears on seeing and hearing him once more. 
He always manifested the greatest interest in 
these pastoral visitations, and considered them 
of paramount importance. As he was now un 
able to go to distant places, he delegated his grand 
vicar to act for him, to whom he especially 
recommended poor widows, and young girls 
whose indigence exposes them to danger. 

He watched particularly over the regulations 
he had made for what may be called the exter 
nals of divine worship. When a church needed 
repairs, or had bad furniture, or soiled vest 
ments, or was not kept with that neatness and 
regularity becoming to the house of God, he 
sometimes caused the money necessary for these 
purposes to be deducted from the revenue of 


the incumbent, but more frequently paid for all 
himself. As he was no longer able to conduct 
the spiritual exercises for priests and religious, 
he frequently assembled them in his palace, and 
for two or three days together instructed them 
on the duties of their state. Zeal was more than 
ever, if possible, his distinguished characteristic ; 
he neglected nothing calculated to promote the 
spiritual advancement of his people. " A hun 
dred bishops together," said Archdeacon Rainone, 
" would not have done what Mgr. Liguori did 
alone, notwithstanding all his infirmities." 

It was rumored that if no one could reproach 
the invalid saint with anything, it was not the 
same with the grand vicar. Referring to this, 
in an animated manner, Alphonsus one day said 
smiling : " The Marquis Tanucci has said that I 
am a saint, and that my grand vicar is unjust: 
two fine lies ! I am not a saint, and my grand 
Vicar is not unjust ; he does nothing but by my 

But saint and wonderful saint as Alphonsus 
was and wonderful especially in his sleepless 
zeal for the spiritual and temporal welfare of his 
flock, he was never long without accusers and 
calumniators. A lawyer whose unjust preten 
sions he was unable to gratify, accused him to 
the king of despising his episcopal city and resid 
ing elsewhere, and of committing or counten 
ancing several other grievous abuses. His 
Majesty transmitted to the saint the heads of the 
charges lodged against him, and this being a 
tacit command to justify or explain his conduct, 


the saint forwarded to the king a letter of 
which the following is a condensed translation : 

" SIRE, 

" I have received with respect the dispatch 
sent by your Majesty, in which two causes of 
complaint are alleged against me : first, that I do 
not reside at St. Agatha ; and secondly, that I 
confer prebends on strangers in preference to 

inhabitants of the town I lived at St. 

Agatha for about five years from my entrance 
into the episcopate ; but that city is very damp 
on account of the mountains that surround it, 
and I was compelled at last to seek a drier air 
because of the asthma to which I am subject, 
but I acted according to the physician s order. 
Arienzo is a portion of my diocese. My health 
has been benefited by the change, and I remain 
without scruple, as Pope Benedict XIV declares 
in his bull, Ubi primum, that it is enough if 
bishops reside in their diocese." 

The learned prelate proceeds to show at some 
length that in conferring benefices, and especially 
prebends, on the most worthy, he has acted in 
accordance with the fathers and the canons, and 
kept in view the will of the founders, the bishop 
being not the master but the distributor : having 
explained the office of the canons of a cathedral, 
he adds with energy : 

" Such being the case, if the citizens of a 
cathedral town should always have the preference, 
over our more worthy diocesans, a common and 
a double injury will result to the whole diocese ; 


for the diocesans will take less pains to advance in 
their studies, knowing that citizens will always 
be preferred to them ; and the citizens will take 
little pains to become meritorious, knowing that 
they will always be preferred to more worthy 
diocesans ; the chapters will be filled with ignorant 
men, and bishops must recur to strangers for 

" I have thus represented what I could touch 
ing this matter, conformably to your majesty s 
orders ; I have now only to prostrate myself be 
fore your royal throne in expectation of your 

This erudite and reasonable letter fully satisfied 
the king, and the saint received a private as well 
as the official letter, in which he was told to con 
tinue to bestow benefices with perfect freedom, as 
he judged right before God. 

The saint, as usual, showed great affection to 
his calumniator, and did him substantial service, 
to the great indignation of the citizens who ill- 
naturedly, if not ill-humoredly, remarked that in 
order to get into Mgr. Liguori s good graces, it 
was necessary to win his favor by loading him 
with injuries and ill-treatment. 

But what complaints ! The king must be ap 
pealed to, because a bishop gives offices to the 
most worthy ; and because Alphonsus, a poor, 
bedridden invalid, resides at Arienzo by order 
of his physicians and directors ! And Arienzo 
is but a pleasant walk scarcely eight miles 
from St. Agatha! The second charge is even 
more absurd than the first. 


khe Count and Countess Liguori visit Alphonsus. Prophecy. 
The saint and his god-children. Death of one of his ne 
phews. The bishop comforts the afflicted father. Advice 
regarding the surviving children. Their mother Lady Mari- 
anna loses her senses. Circular Letter. Tannucci.- 
New Troubles in Sicily. Apology of Alphonsus. Maffei s 
expedient for regaining Popularity. The Fathers leave Sicily. 
Request of the people. 

COUNT HERCULES and the Lady Marianna came 
to Arienzo to visit the bishop just before the 
birth of their first child, which they earnestly 
hoped would be a boy. The saint gave his 
sister-in-law a little picture of the Blessed 
Virgin, saying : " You will give birth not to a 
boy but to a girl, and I should like you to call 
her Mary Teresa." A year or two later the 
parents of the little Mary Teresa followed the 
saint to Airola, to entreat him to pray God to 
give them a son. Alphonsus told his sister 
that God would grant the prayers, and pre 
sented her with two little pictures of St Louis. 
Two pictures of the same saint seemed one 
too many, but the pious lady understood the 
mystery when shortly after God blessed her 
with twin sons. In the course of the following 
year, a third son was given her. The saintly 
uncle became sponsor to each of these children, 
and this office made him exact in seeing that 
they received a thorough Catholic education. 


He frequently wrote to urge his brother to 
attend to the education of his children. He even 
composed a rule of life for them, and desired to 
be informed as to their progress in virtue and 
learning. " For the love of God," he wrote to 
his brother, " often call to mind the business of 
your eternal salvation, as I have frequently 
begged you to do. I am pleased to hear that 
my little god-children practice the devotions 1 
have recommended for them ; I hope they will 
be inclined to become saints. 

Don Hercules was rejoiced at obtaining three 
sons from God in his old age, and as he thought 
he owed this favor to the prayers of his brother, he 
took. the three to Arienzo to present them to their 
illustrious kinsman. " See, Alfonso," cried the 
infatuated father, " how beautiful they are ! This 
is Alfonsino, and here are the twins, see how well 
they behave." His lordship looked at the twins 
earnestly, and said : " Would you not be very sad 
to lose one of these little ones ? * " O heavens ! " 
cried the old noble, " do you tell me that ! " The 
saint had prophesied. Some months after, one 
of the twin-brothers died. The afflicted father 
came to the bishop for consolation. " Ah ! my 
brother," said he, " say no more of the future of 
my children ; your prophecies are too inauspi 
cious." "Fear not," returned Alphonsus, "your 
boys, Joseph and Alfonsino, will live to grow 
old." The saint took great interest in the progress 
of these children. He explained to them their 
duties towards God and their parents, the hideous- 
ness of sin, how greatly bad conduct dishonors a 


Christian and a gentleman : above all he en 
deavored to inspire them with a tender devotion 
to Jesus and Mary. It was he himself who con 
firmed them, after having diligently instructed 
them. One of these nephews, then a venerable 
gray-haired man, supported the pendant of St. 
Alphonsus Liguori s banner, in the magnifi 
cent procession which commemorated our holy 
bishop s canonization by Pope Gregory XVI, 


Count Hercules wishing to place his sons in 
the college for the young nobility, communicated 
his design to his brother, who wrote : " I cannot 
approve of your placing your sons in that college, 
because I have not a good opinion of it ; besides, 
boys should not enter a college until they are 
at least ten or twelve ; lest they should imbibe 
vice in their childhood, keep them with you. 
Later on, we shall see God s will regarding 
them. I should like them to be where they may 
become virtuous as well as learned." 

In a subsequent letter he wrote : "Keep them 
under your own eyes. The malice of one pupil 
is enough to ruin a hundred. Have their spiritual 
good at heart, and Providence will take care to 
supply their temporal wants without detriment 
to their souls. "The old father now became 
anxious to present his beautiful and idolized boys 
to the king, but their unworldly uncle would not 
hear of it. " If the king were to tell you he wished 
your sons to become cadets in the brigade or 
some other regiment, you would be obliged to 
make them cadets or soldiers, thereby risking 


their souls as well as their bodies." He goes on 
to express his fears that they will not be brought 
up properly, and adds: "It is the love I bear 
towards you and your dear children which forces 
me to write in this manner." 

The mother of these beautiful children became 
such a prey to scruples in 1768, that she partially 
lost her senses. This was a grievous affliction to 
her aged husband, and was deeply shared by our 
saint, who wrote to his poor brother in the 
tenderest strain, and endeavored to console him. 
He also wrote to Father Villani to have prayers 
offered in all the houses of the Congregation for 
the hapless wife and the bereaved husband. In 
view of the great age of Hercules, and the still 
greater age of his brothers Cajetan and 
Alphonsus, the latter prevailed on him to make 
his will and select suitable guardians for his 

About this time he addressed to his Congrega 
tion a beautiful circular, in which he admonishes 
his brothers and sons of their faults, expatiates 
on the virtues they should strive to acquire, and 
insists on the perfect observance of the rules. 
However slight external faults might be, he 
would have them followed by penance. " Un- 
corrected faults," said he, " become established 
evils." Hearing that some clerics had relaxed in 
the observance of the rules, he sent them back to 
the novitiate to regain their fervor, nor would he 
ordain them till he was assured of their amend 
ment. He had severe trials from some of his 
own Congregation. Two went so far as to 


answer his gentle remonstrances by defying him 
to his face, and saying they would remain in the 
house in spite of him. The old bishop was 
deeply grieved, but yet would not expel them, 
remarking that God would do it for him, which 
accordingly happened. Both asked their dis 
pensation within the ensuing year. " I know," 
he wrote to the superior of Frossinone, " that the 
patience of a saint is necessary with some .... 
but we must fulfil our duty, happen what may." 
And to father Cajone, he wrote : " I beg your 
reverence to govern with all possible mildness, 
but be firm against attacks on the rules, for they 
do us more harm than all our persecutions. 
When you must correct, do it privately in the 
first place, and with charity, and treat every one 
with affability and kindness. 

The enemies of his Congregation were active 
indeed. No soo ner had he left Naples, than with 
a bravery common to calumniators, they again 
attacked his sons, and rather increased than 
diminished the former slanders. So violent were 
these opponents and so artfully did they gain the 
ear of the influential, that it was commonly 
thought that the Congregation of the Most Holy 
Redeemer would be suppressed, and the most 
sanguine did not expect that it would survive 
its founder. He strove to re-animate his des 
ponding children. " This Congregation does 
not come from me," said he, " it is in no sense 
dependant on my existence. God, whose work it 
is, and who has preserved it for two and forty 
years, will continue to maintain it Our 


stability depends first on Him, and next on oui 
own good conduct. Let us then be careful to 
unite ourselves to God, to observe our rules, and 
be charitable towards all ; above all let us be 
humble, for pride can destroy us, as it has 
destroyed other societies." 

But the Fathers did not share his confidence. 
Villani and other Fathers besought him with 
tears to repair again to Naples. Perceiving by 
the earnestness of their supplications that they 
looked forward with fear and trembling to the 
speedy death of their founder, he bade them not 
be alarmed, for that he was not to die yet. 

Maffei now applied to the Prime Minister 
Tanucci, who certainly had proved himself no 
great friend to the Congregation. New slanders 
varied the old ones, and affairs began to assume 
a worse aspect than ever. It was no great feat 
to gain Tanucci to the wrong*side, for he was 
rarely on the right in religious matters. This 
worthy prototype of the robber ministers, who 
act for the robber kings of to-day, was of obscure 
birth ; he governed the two Sicilies for nearly 
half a century, hated by the people and despised 
by the nobility, during which period, besides 
innumerable other acts equally edifying, he 
suppressed seventy eight monasteries, and 
showed himself on all occasions the implacable 
enemy of the Sovereign Pontiff, and indeed of 
every worthy and zealous prelate and priest 
with whom he came in contact. He pursued 
the Jesuits with unrelenting hatred, and when 
he had annihilated the Society of Jesus in the 


Neapolitan dominions, he endeavored to persuade 
the king that the Redemptorists were but a repro 
duction of the Society of Jesus, and deserved a 
like fate. But the saintliness of Alphonsus had 
gained him friends and protectors in the highest 
circles, and the upstart minister was happily 
over-matched by the saint. The holy founder 
never wavered in his trust in God. " Let us act 
as we ought towards God," said he, " and He will 
aid us, for God can do more than man. Let us 
recur to prayer ; innocence and prayer are all 
powerful with God." 

To his children in Sicily he addressed a consol 
ing letter, bidding them however, prepare for 
new trials. He was suffering so much with his 
limbs when he wrote it, that he signed it " Brother 
Alphonsus Mary, the cripple." His forebodings 
were prophecies. Their adversaries in that 
island renewed their attacks daily with ever 
increasing malignity. Their settlement in Gir- 
genti, their doctrine, their morality, all were 
grossly misrepresented. Alphonsus was obliged 
to justify himself and his sons in an eloquent 
apology ; Father Peter Blasucci made similar 
representations to the supreme junta at Palermo, 
protesting, with the energy of truth, that both 
he and his Fathers followed, whether in morals 
or in dogma, the system most conformable to 
the spirit of the Gospel and the teachings of the 
Catholic Church. 

The minister sent a kind reply to the aged 
bishop, and the slanders of their arch enemy, 
Canella, were crushed for the time. But Maffei 


had prepared another snare. All Illiceto, except 
the poor, aided him in endeavoring to compass 
his ends. This proud, turbulent noble was 
always at war with the populace, and he now 
hit upon the bright expedient of making friends 
with the Fathers, that they might become 
mediators between him and the common people, 
with whom, he found it rather inconvenient to be 
at variance. The friends of the Congregation 
approved greatly of this project, but Alphonsus 
saw deeper than the lawyers who undertook to 
befriend him. When Father Villani informed 
him of the proposal, he gave a decided negative. 
" It would only," said he with his usual acute- 
ness, " it would only alienate the people from 
us, without effecting our reconciliation with 
Maffej, If our Father Fiocchi spoke in favor of 
Maffei, they would believe we spoke not because 
he is right, but to win his friendship. Now 
everything leads me to believe that right is not 
on the side of Maffei, but on the side of the poor 
people whom he oppresses. It would therefore 
be difficult for Father Fiocchi to say anything 
in favor of that man without wounding justice 
.... I am therefore decidedly of opinion, that 
no member of the Congregation should accept 
the office of mediator, on any terms whatever." 
This decision greatly disconcerted the turbulent 
baron, who now explained his difficulties with 
the people, by representing the missionaries 
as the instigators of the disaffection they showed 
towards him. 

Meanwhile the situation of the missionaries in 


Sicily became so precarious that the holy 
founder recalled them. " If God wishes us to 
be there," said he, " He will know how to pro 
cure our return, and then we can go back 
blessing God and the king." This was a source 
of the most lively anguish to the pious Mon- 
signor Lanza : " You shall return here again," 
said he, " in spite of hell. Were it necessary to 
sell my mitre and cross for this end, I would not 
hesitate to sell them, for God, for you, and for 
your work." The chevaliers, magistrates, nobles 
and ladies of high rank sharing the sentiments of 
their worthy bishop, petitioned the king to 
obtain the return of the Fathers. Although 
they departed secretly in the night, multitudes 
accompanied them to the shore, bewailing the 
loss they were about to sustain. The clergy and 
religious orders, without exception, addressed 
the king and the holy founder, imploring the 
return of their dear Fathers. Alphonsus was 
deeply affected at this touching testimony of the 
love and esteem his sons had inspired, and pro 
mised to yield to their wishes, as soon as the 
storm then raging should have passed away ; a 
promise which he religiously fulfilled a little 


Cement XIV refuses to accept the saint s resignation. Prophecy. 
Circular letter. New literary labors. Foundations. Grati 
tude of the saints. Letters. Work on the Psalms. 
Criticisms. Persecutions. Revolution. His grief at the sup 
pression of the Jesuits. He regards it as temporary. His 
sympathy for the Pope. He assists at his death bed. Biloca- 
tion proved. The saint requested to write the qualifications 
necessary in the future Pope. He complies. 

THE saint imagining that his infirmities rendered 
him all but useless to his Church, aijji hoping, 
that though unfit for episcopal functions, he could 
still aid his Congregation, again petitioned to be 
released from the burden of the episcopate, at the 
same time resigning his will entirely to that of his 
holiness. Clement XIV, aware of the good he 
still effected, encouraged him to continue the 
administration ; and when Cardinal Castelli soli 
cited him to consider the great age of the saintly 
prelate and release him, his holiness replied : 
" It suffices that he governs his diocese from his 
bed." " But he is not able to make his visita 
tions," objected the cardinal. " One prayer 
addressed to God from his bed of sickness is 
worth more than a hundred visitations," was the 
reply of the Pope. " The voice of the Pope is 
the voice of God," said Alphonsus, " I am now 
content to die under my cross." Several 
bishops and missionaries counselled him to give 


in a formal resignation ; seeing him crippled with 
rheumatism, suffering the most excruciating tor 
tures in every joint, his head so bowed upon his 
breast, that viewed from behind he seemed head 
less, they thought that mercy itself, demanded his 
release. These venerable men laughed heartily 
when the paralytic cheerfully replied : " This 
Pope is firm ; if I gave him my resignation he 
would not accept it ,- let us have patience and 
wait for his successor." Ganganelli was not 
then sixty, and was of a robust constitution and 
vigorous frame. He was seventeen years 
younger than Alphonsus ; yet the words of the 
saint were prophetic ; this celebrated Pope died 
two years after, 1774, and the bishop lingered 
thirteen years longer (1787,) not however with 
out obtaining his demission from the next pontiff, 
Pius VI. 

Our saint being entirely incapacitated from 
visiting his dear children of the Congregation 
now addressed them a beautiful circular, in which, 
having as usual exhorted them to a more fervent 
observance of rule in order to merit the favor and 
assistance of God, he adds pathetically : " I can 
do no more; I, who am decrepit, bedridden and 
paralyzed. It is you, my beloved children, who 
must sustain the Congregation, and be assured 
that if we only act as we ought, God will always 
assist us, and the more poor and despised and 
persecuted we are, the more good we shall do, 
and the greater will be the reward which Jesus 
Christ will reserve for us in heaven." 

But our saint could do much more than he 


admitted. Within a short interval, he published 
three valuable works called forth by the exigencies 
of the times ; viz, <4 Reflections on Divers Spiritual 
Subjects," his book " On the Truth of Faith," and 
his long and learned dissertation entitled " Re 
flections on the Truth of divine Revelation, against 
the Deists." " If the enemies of our religion," 
said he, " are never satisfied, although they pub 
lish thousands of books against it, why should 
the friends of religion grow weary of defending 

Close upon the above works followed his 
" Triumph of the Church " in which he warmly 
defends the infallibility of the pope and his pre 
eminence in the Church ; and his " Sermons." In 
the appendix to the latter we find his most useful 
" Letter to a student deliberating as to choosing a 
state in life ; " also a second and a third letter, in 
which respectively he treats of the great utility 
of missions, and of the manner of preaching with 
apostolic simplicity. 

His next was that precious little book " On the 
True Happiness of Man, and on His Submission 
to the Will of God." This was said to have been 
inspired rather than composed. A pious person 
was so moved by the benefit he derived from it, 
that, in gratitude to God, and desirous that others 
should participate in this favor, he caused it to 
be gratuitously distributed every where. 

Amid all these labors and troubles, God willed 
that Alphonsus should have the comfort of seeing 
his Congregation make two new foundations in 
the States of the Church. The first occasioned 


the second. In the course of their missions, 
Father Francis de Paul, superior of the new 
house, and another father, visited the celebrated 
Trappist Abbey of Casamari. The virtues of these 
Fathers gained the affection and esteem of their 
hosts, and a plan was concerted between both 
parties for establishing a Redemptorist Convent 
in the neighborhood. A priest of Avignon had 
recently built a church for the peasants of the neg 
lected hamlets of Scifelli, Candi and St. Francis, 
and had just added a commodious dwelling for 
such priests as he hoped would join him. How 
ever, the bishop of Veroli coveted the services of 
this holy man, and named him his grand vicar. 

When Alphonsus heard of the spiritual desti 
tution of the poor laborers who formed the 
population of these villages, he shed tears of 
compassion, and instantly resolved to send his 
missionaries among them. " I have consented to 
let this foundation be made," he wrote to Father 
Francis de Paul, May 28th. 1773. " I have written 
to thank the Abbe Arnaud for it ; it is to him 
we are indebted for all concerning it." Abbe 
Arnaud, the priest above alluded to, willingly 
bestowed on the missionaries the spacious house 
he had built, and Alphonsus was anxious that so 
particular a benefactor should be most graciously 
treated by his missionaries. Nothing is more 
remarkable in the Lives of the Saints, than the 
gratitude they evince towards benefactors. 
4< Take care," wrote he to the new rector, " not 
to displease him in things not absolutely contrary 
to the good order of the house, for we owe him 



every thing. Divers things must be yielded for 
the sake of peace and conscience. 

" Let him see that you esteem him, and listen to 
his opinions as far as possible. . . . Nevertheless 
I advise you to keep up the observance of rule 
from the beginning, and this I beg of you for the 
*ove of God and your neighbor." In another 
letter he says : " I trust to your prudence not to 
do anything to pain Mr. Arnaud, and that all the 
fathers and brothers will maintain strict obser 
vance of rule." 

The new house was extremely poor. Alphon- 
sus did not fail to assist it ; not however, with 
the revenues of his diocese, but with the pension 
he received from the College of Doctors in Naples. 
" Tell the subjects in my name," he wrote to the 
superior, " to remember that this foundation is 
new, and in another kingdom. In all new found 
ations there is much to be suffered, both on ac 
count of poverty, and also because one has to deal 
with people whom one does not know." But hear 
ing that the superior had purchased some books 
while his subjects suffered for want of neccessaries, 
he was much distressed and wrote to him : " Is 
this a time to buy books when your children have 
not enough to eat ? Really, I can hardly believe 
it. See if those books cannot be sent back, even 
at some loss." 

Father Francis was very much displeased that 
the missions should be interrupted, because the 
bishop of Veroli wished to have the missionaries 
with him in his pastoral visitations, but Alphon- 
sus wrote to him as follows: " By making the 


visitation with the bishop you may do much 
good, for you can remain long enough in each 
place to give at least a triduo, and also some little 
mission where there has not yet been one. Ar 
range these matters with the bishop, whom we 
are bound to obey next to the rule." 

God blessed the labors of the Fathers in these 
parts most abundantly. " I cannot help giving 
thanks to God," wrote the saint to Father 
Francis de Paul, " for having given me so many 
consolations in my old age. Praised forever be 
Jesus and Mary." 

Early in 1774, Alphonsus made a translation or 
rather a paraphrase of the psalms into the verna 
cular, which he dedicated to the reigning pontiff, 
Clement XIV. This work was so highly es 
teemed that Benedict Cervone who subsequently 
became bishop of Aquila said: " Had the saintly 
bishop of St. Agatha written nothing else in sup 
port of religion and the Church, this work alone 
would suffice to render him worthy of immor 
tality." The learned Canon Massa, passed a 
high eulogium on Alphonsus for having given to 
the faithful this greatly needed work. He extols 
his piety, wisdom and indefatigable zeal, which 
neither infirmities, nor age, nor the labors of his 
administration could slacken. " He explains the 
meaning of the psalms," says he, " and the ob 
scure passages in them so skilfully, that, without 
detracting from the purity of the inspired word, 
he aids the minds and hearts of those who read 
it." In the same year, he published his " Tri 
umphs of the Martyrs," the object. of which was 


to kindle in all hearts a greater love for Jesus 
Christ and a greater zeal for that faith for which 
the martyrs so cheerfully gave their lives. By 
this, as Cervone said, he showed himself " full of 
solicitude for the grand affair of salvation, omit 
ting nothing that could open or facilitate the road 
to the celestial country." 

Meanwhile Baron Sarnelli and Don Maffei re 
newed with ever increasing venom their malig 
nant attacks. Broken down by years, labors and 
infirmities, as the old bishop was, the spirit of 
the lawyer rose up within him, and he himself ar 
ranged a plan of defence and placed it in the 
hands of the advocate Celano. However he was 
very uneasy as to the result. " I have caused 
prayers to be said everywhere," he wrote, " and 
masses to be celebrated .... Get the people to 
say an Ave before the sermon, and procure pray 
ers in as many monasteries as you can." To 
Father Majone, he wrote : " When the ministers 
are spoken to, the Congregation must not be 
named ; I only should be spoken of, since I am 
the person principally aimed at in this affair." 
He addressed all the prominent ministers and law 
yers, and in an eloquent memorial to the king, 
he represented the innocence of his missionaries, 
the labors they daily underwent for the welfare 
of the kingdom, and their respectful submission 
to all the royal decisions. In a lengthy circular 
to all his houses, he exhorts his beloved brothers 
and children to increased fervor in virtue and 
regular observance, as the best means of securing 
the divine protection to the congregation. " I 


am sure," he added, "that God loves our little 
Congregation as the apple of His eye ; for we see 
that He never ceases to protect us amid so many 
persecutions, and to render us more worthy of 
laboring for His glory in divers countries, by the 
assistance of His manifest graces. I shall not 
see it for my death is at hand, but I know that 
our little flock will increase more and more, and 
that, through our labors, Jesus Christ will be bet 
ter known and loved. We shall one day meet 
again ; we shall be re-united in our heavenly 
home never more to be separated. We shall meet 
there, in the enjoyment of eternal happiness, 
hundreds of thousands who once lived without 
the love of God, but who, through us, recovered 
His grace, and will form our glory and our joy 
for all eternity. Should not this thought alone 
stimulate our fervor and make us love Jesus 
Christ and draw others to love him ? 

His biographer regards as certain that the 
saint had been favored with some special revela 
tion on this subject which his humility made 
him conceal, for the same year he wrote to 
Father Majone : " I am full of joy, for it seems 
to me that the Blessed Virgin will bring us safe 
and sound out of this tempest. Therefore let us 
abandon ourselves into the hands of Jesus Christ ; 
let us pray to Him, and He will turn all to His 
greater glory. 

Our great bishop who may be said to have 
carried the whole Church in his bosom, could 
not see scandal or disorder anywhere, without 
being, as the apostle said of himself, on fire. 


During the stormy pontificate of Clement XIV, 
his heart was torn by the troubles that disquieted 
the Church, and he continually offered up 
prayers to God for the hapless pontiff and his 
persecuted flock. What particularly distressed 
him was, that most of the crowned heads of 
Europe, to their eternal shame be it recorded, 
incited by Jansenist or infidel influence, in 
sisted on the suppression of the world-renowned 
Society of Jesus. " No one," says his friend and 
biographer Tannoia, " can imagine how he sor 
rowed over the storm that raged against the 
Jesuits ; he never spoke of it without feelings of 
the deepest distress." 

" It is nothing but intrigue on the part of the 
Jansenists and the unbelieving," said the saint ; 
" if they succeed in overthrowing the company, 
their wishes will be accomplished, but if this bul 
wark falls, what convulsions will there not be in 
Church and State ! The loss of the Jesuits will 
place the Pope and the Church in a most 
disastrous situation ; the Jansenists aim at them, 
because through them they will be the more 
certain of striking at Church and State." 

Such were the fears and sentiments of St. 
Alphonsus, but the judgments of God are 
impenetrable ! Clement XIV suppressed the 
Society of Jesus, by a brief dated July 22, 1773. 
When the aged bishop heard this, he felt as 
though a thunderbolt had been hurled against 
him. It may well be believed that of the thou 
sands of Jesuits which this brief disbanded, not 
one felt the blow more keenly than Alphonsus. 


Respect for the pontifical judgment closed his 
mouth, but the unspeakable anguish of his heart 
was plainly depicted on his venerable counte 
nance. When he received the brief, he adored 
in silence the judgments of God, and then said : 
11 The will of the Pope is the will of God." One 
day the grand vicar and other persons of dis 
tinction appeared to cast blame on the dis 
positions of the Pope: "Poor Pope," he ex 
claimed, " what could he have done in such 
delicate circumstances, when so many monarchs 
demanded their suppression. As for us, we 
have only to adore the secret judgment of God, 
and remain in peace." Yet he seems to have 
regarded the suppression as merely temporary : 
" I assert," said he with unusual energy, " that if 
but a single Jesuit be left in the world, he alone 
will be sufficient to re-establish the Society." 

After this sad concession, made to worthless 
sovereigns, on the principle that the peace of the 
Universal Church required the sacrifice, troubles 
accumulated upon the unfortunate pontiff. 
" Pray for the Pope," wrote Alphonsus, " he is 
overwhelmed with sadness, and not causelessly, 
for there seems not to be a shadow of peace for 
the Church. Pray for the Pope ; God alone 
knows how I feel his afflictions. I have heard 
that he wishes for death, so great is his distress 
at the trials which afflict the Church. I pray 
that God may come to his aid." In another let- 
ter we find this passage : " I hear from various 
quarters that the Pope is in sorrow, that he is 
shut up and does no business. Let us beseech 


God to deliver him from this profound melan 

On the morning of September 21. 1774 
Alphonsus immediately after mass threw himself 
into his arm-chair, in which he remained all that 
day and all the following night perfectly motion 
less, and without articulating a single word. 
The servants not knowing what this portended, 
remained all night at the door without daring to 
enter. Later in the day, he appeared to awake, 
and rang the bell to announce that he was about 
to celebrate mass. At this signal, his whole 
household surrounded him, and Alphonsus with an 
air of surprise asked what was the matter. "You 
have neither eaten nor spoken for two days," they 
replied, " and you ceased to give any signs of 
life." " That is true," said he, " but you do not 
know that I have been with the Pope who has 
just died." Tidings soon reached the town that 
Clement XIV had passed to a better life, Sep 
tember 22, at eight in the morning, the very 
moment in which Alphonsus had come to himself. 
The advocate of the cause of our saint has ably 
demonstrated that this prolonged repose, or ap 
parent stupor, was a continual ecstacy, " an 
admirable favor which God accorded to our saint 
and to the dying pontiff." 

Cardinal Castelli aware of the high reputation 
of Alphonsus for sanctity and the veneration with 
which the sacred college regarded him, asked 
him to write a long letter on the abuses which 
ought to be rectified in the various orders of the 
ecclesiastical hierarchy. The cardinal wished 


this memorial to be presented to the Conclave, 
hoping that it would be of use in causing a pope 
to be elected capable of remedying all the ills of 
the Church. Such a request covered the humble 
prelate with confusion, but, urged by the friends 
who were commissioned to use their influence 
with him, he invoked the light of the Holy Ghost, 
and complied, in the following form : 

sentiments on the present state of the Church and 
the election of a pope, but what sentiments can 
a miserable creature such as I am express? All 
I can say is that it is necessary to pray, and to pray 
much ; for in order to raise the Church from the 
remissness and confusion which, alas ! are but 
too prevalent, prudence and human wisdom are, 
insufficient ; nothing short of the powerful arm 
of God will suffice. Few bishops have true zeal 
for the salvation of souls. Most religious com 
munities are relaxed ; observances are neglected 
and rules despised. 

" The situation of the secular clergy is still 
worse ; therefore an absolute reform is necessary 
among ecclesiastics that they may afterwards be 
able to reform the conduct of the laity ; we must 
then pray to Jesus Christ to give His Church a 
head containing something more than know 
ledge and human prudence ; to give her, in short, 
a pontiff who through the spirit of God may be 
filled with zeal for His glory, and totally detached 
from all parties so as to be able to resist the 
suggestions of human respect. If we have the 


misfortune to have a pope who has not God s 
glory in view, we shall receive but little aid from 
heaven, and things will become worse. 

* Prayer is the sole remedy for such great mis 
fortunes. Hence I have not only enjoined on my 
little congregation to pray with more than ordi 
nary fervor for the election of a Supreme Pontiff, I 
have also ordered all the regular and secular 
clergy of my diocese to say during mass tl^e Col 
lect, Pro eligcndo Summo Pontifice. I pray fre 
quently during the day about this election, but 
what can my poor prayers avail ? Nevertheless, I 
put all my trust in the merits of Jesus Christ and 
of the Blessed Virgin, and I hope that God will 
comfort me, by permitting me to see the Church 
relieved before my death, which my age and in 
firmities admonish me cannot be far distant. . 

" I desire also to see all reigning disorders 
reformed, and a thousand ideas on this subject 
come into my head, which I should ardently wish 
to communicate to you,*if the knowledge of what 
I am, did not take away all boldness, by con 
vincing me that it is not for me to pretend to 
reform the world. I desire that the future pope, 
when he has vacancies to supply in the Sacred 
College, would select only the best informed and 
most zealous among those proposed, and that he 
would request all princes not to present any but 
men of well known learning and piety as candi 
dates for the cardinalate. 

" I wish also that he should exercise unalter 
able firmness in refusing livings to those who are 
already sufficiently provided for, repress luxury 


in prelates, and fix the number of their servants. 
This would help to put a stop to the slander and 
detraction of our enemies. He should also 
endeavor never to confer benefices on any but 
those who have merited well by their labors for 
the Church. 

" I should wish him to be very strict in choosing 
bishops and to obtain information at all hands, 
about those proposed for this high and important 
office, and be certain as to the goodness of their 
character "and doctrine, which are indispensable 
qualities in ruling over a diocese. It is on these 
chief pastors that the good of religion and the 
salvation of souls chiefly depend. I should like him 
to require metropolitans and others to inform him 
in secret as to any bishops who are careless about 
the welfare of their flocks ; also to threaten 
with suspension or the supervision of a vicar 
apostolic, both negligent bishops and those who 
are non-resident, as well as those who scan 
dalize the world by the luxury of their attendants 
and the excessive expense of their equipage, 
festivities, &c. In some cases it does not do to be 
afraid of putting these threats into execution ; 
corrections purify the Church from the corrup 
tions that sully her, and restrain other bishops 
through fear of public blame, which admonishes 
them of their back-slidings, and causes them to 
return to a sense of their duty, to the great advan 
tage of their flocks. 

" In fine, why should the future pope be too 
lenient in granting favors injurious to the main- 
tainance of discipline, such for instance, as per- 


mitting nuns to leave their enclosure without 
any real necessity? He should not readily con 
sent to the secularization of religious, on account 
of the evils which result from it ; and above all 
he should recall all religious to the primitive 
observance of the rules of their institute, at least 
on all important points. 

" I will not try your patience any longer ; I 
can do nothing further, save to beseech God to 
give us a pontiff full of His own spirit. Accept 
the sentiments of profound respect with which I 
have the honor to remain," &c., &c. 


Calumnies against Alphonsus. His Moral Theology censured and 
defended. Violent persecutions. ! He refuses to go to Naples. 
He prescribes means of obtaining the Divine Mercy. He 
refuses to seek the mediation of a lady. Some gleams of sun 
shine. Good Bishop Lanza. The saint s administration. 
Examples. Testimony of Tannoia. Extraordinary sweetness 
of the saint. His zeal to prevent the slightest faults in priests. 
His surveillance extends beyond his own diocese. The reg 
ulars. Vigilance over the laity. Anecdote. 

UP to this time the enemies of the Congregation 
had spared its head ; the veneration inspired by 
his name caused them to leave him in peace even 
while they persecuted his cherished children. 
But seeing that they could not injure the mem 
bers while they evinced respect for their head, 
they now turned their weapons against him. 
As his private life was not only blameless but 
saintly, they attacked his doctrine, and published 
every where that his Moral Theology was not 
only too indulgent, but contained all the lax 
principles attributed to the Jesuits, the mere 
word Jesuit being sufficient, then as now, to 
rouse the worst passions of the impious. 

The book was no sooner denounced than the 
Congregation shared its fate. But God caused 
it to be approved at the very time its adversaries 
expected its condemnation. Some copies were 
sent from Naples and had reached the custom- 


house, when they were stopped by the king s pro 
curator-general who was prejudiced against the 
work, and wished it to be examined with utmost 
strictness by Father Majone, a Conventualist. 
This teamed religious assured him that the doc 
trine was perfectly sound, and that there was no 
proposition in the boo* deserving of censure 
a judgment since repeated by the highest earthly 
tribunal. " Well," exclaimed the officer, " what 
atrocious calumnies have been spread! I am 
delighted and rejoiced at this news, for I should 
grieve to be obliged to pain this saintly old man." 
Thus did heaven frustrate the plots of the wicked 
and turn them to the glory of the servant of God. 
But the enemies of the Congregation were still 
active. The suppression of the Jesuits caused 
ancient and distinguished orders to tremble; 
how much more those which as yet had scarcely 
taken root. Maflfei and Sarnelli were as power 
ful and as inveterate as heretofore; they re 
doubled their attacks, leaving nothing undone to 
compass the ruin of missionaries who had done 
them all manner of good, and never, even 
under extraordinary provocation, done them the 
slightest injury. Even Alphonsus, who hereto 
fore was full of courage, now trembled, as though 
God had withdrawn the powerful grace that had 
hitherto sustained him. The Fathers themselves 
considered matters all but desperate. All, 
especially Father Villani, besought him to go to 
Naples and cast himself at the feet of the king. 
The old man thought of his shrunken figure, his 
paralyzed limbs, his bowed head, his wasted 


frame, and said smiling : " What a figure I should 
cut before the king as I now am ! Would he 
not mistake me for a phantom, and order me out 
of his presence ? My brothers, let us place our 
selves in God s hands, and distrust human means ; 
for the Congregation is a divine work, not the 
work of man, nor is man capable of upholding it." 

Alphonsus did not neglect any means of 
obtaining the divine mercy. Besides the 
customary penances and mortifications, masses 
and prayers were obtained, and the Blessed 
Sacrament exposed in all the houses. The psalm 
Qui habitat was recited in common, followed by 
an Ave for the persecutors. 

Other causes of anxiety arose, too tedious to 
dwell upon. As the Congregation was in im 
minent danger of ruin, Alphonsus was advised to 
gain the patronage of a lady who was very 
influential in a certain high quarter, but with his 
usual dread of sin or its occasions, he would not 
entertain such a proposal. " Never," wrote he 
to Father Majone ; " let the Congregation be des 
troyed rather than become the occasion of even 
the shadow of sin or scandal to any one." 

Amid these incessant tempests, the aged pre 
late enjoyed some gleams of sunshine. In April 
1775, the house at Girgenti was resumed in a 
manner honorable to the missionaries and their 
sainted Founder. The clergy and people testi 
fied the most lively joy at seeing them once 
more. The good Bishop Lanza was so deeply 
affected that he could not forbear exclaiming 
with holy Simeon: "Now dost Thou dismiss 


thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in 
peace ; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation/ 
And indeed he might well have adopted these 
beautiful words, for he fell asleep in our Lord, in 
the arms of his tenderly loved missionaries, but a 
few weeks after their return. His successor 
Cardinal Branciforti was equally devoted to the 

As we have now almost reached the term of 
our saint s glorious episcopate, we shall here add 
some details of his mode of administration, which 
will serve to magnify our ideas of his wonderful 
zeal as chief pastor. 

Alphonsus had so high a standard for the 
ecclesiastical state that he wished sanctity to shine 
brightly in all who embraced it. The clergy 
were the dearest and most valued portion of his 
flock. What did he not do to banish vice from 
among them, employing for their amendment, 
now sweetness, again severity, but always with 
the most admirable prudence ! Father Caputo 
thus describes the methods used by the holy 
bishop to draw them to God : " His lordship s 
first reproof was full of sweetness and humility, 
if no improvement followed, he gave a second 
reprimand of mingled sweetness and severity. 
If he found that the delinquent was incorrigible, 
chastisement followed," irrespective of the rank, 
talent, or position of the culprit. 

Drunkenness and incontinence were the vices 
he specially abhorred. He said that we can ex 
pect more from a brute than from a drunkard ; 
as to the other vice, homicide in his eyes was no 


worse. When he saw ecclesiastics in danger, or 
who through weakness had made a false step, his 
principal remedy was a retreat ; but if things 
went farther, he used the strongest method for 
eradicating the evil. One day, having placed a 
large crucifix across the doorway, he sent for a 
person who had greviously offended. Having 
arrived, the wretched man seized with sudden 
terror drew back : " Enter," said the holy bishop, 
" trample the crucifix under foot ; perhaps it will 
not be the first time." He then gave free vent 
to his zeal, and with burning words set forth the 
enormity of the crimes, which he held in such 
abhorrence. The culprit wept bitterly, and sol 
emnly promised to change his life. He not only 
kept his word, but for the rest of his days was a 
model of edification. 

Mild measures were not always successful, and 
when they were exhausted, the zealous bishop 
imposed exile to remove the sinner from the 
occasion of sin, and suspension to avenge the 
dignity of the sacred ministry. He even had re 
course to the king and the pope, in short he left 
no method untried to root out vice of every 
kind. One day he said to Don Nicholas Ran- 
nucci of Naples : " If a priest falls from grace, I 
must render an account of it ; " and as this good 
priest tried to tranquillize him, he repeated in an 
agitated tone : " It is I, my dear Nicholas, and no 
one else, who must account for it to God." 

Sometimes the saint exiled culprits for six, or 
even ten years, sometimes he imprisoned them. 
There was one who, after many paternal warn- 


ings and remonstrances, relapsed into sin. He 
was shut up in the prison of St. Agatha, but did 
not amend : " Let him alone," said the saint to 
his vicar, " God s justice will reach him ; " and in 
fact, he shortly after died suddenly. Sometimes 
he merely sent such persons to some religious 
house ; mercy always tempered his justice, and 
however degraded the erring man might be, he 
invariably allowed him from his own poor re 
sources, sufficient for his maintainance. In one 
instance, as the sin had been public he determined 
to inflict such a punishment as would strike terror 
into all evil doers. " Who can keep the keeper ? " 
he exclaimed with holy indignation. The miser 
able culprit became alarmed, and knowing the 
goodness of the old saint s heart, went to him, like 
another prodigal son, and obtained the forgive 
ness he so earnestly implored. The example of 
this true penitent, was such in after life, as to 
produce the most salutary effects upon all with 
whom he came in contact. 

While giving a mission at Arienzo, he was 
informed that an ecclesiastic had entered a 
dangerous house. He immediately had him 
seized and brought into his presence. Indeed 
his severity or rather his unsleeping vigilance 
was so well known throughout the diocese, that 
there was no chance of rest for a dissolute man, 
but to give clear proofs of amendment. Yet for 
one whose angelic soul, so utterly abhorred the 
shadow of vice, who had never sullied, even by 
the least wilful thought, the delicate lily of his 
purity, his mercy to these unhappy peopte was 


surprising. A priest who had been summoned 
to St. Agatha was sentenced by the chapter to 
pay a fine of four ducats. His lordship no 
sooner understood that he was poor than he 
gave him twenty carlins, merely telling him to 
give the balance in charity. To a priest who 
disapproved of his lenity on this occasion, he 
said : " We must punish the guilty, but they 
should be dismissed with mildness the better to 
correct them." If he found it necessary to 
remove a priest for a time from his missions, 
he would always support him at his own ex 
pense. When he had evidence of certain faults 
in priests, he not only suspended them as con 
fessors, but forbade them to celebrate the holy 
sacrifice. His severity, however, was only for 
the incorrigible. To one who complained of 
the rigor with which he was treated, the saint 
said with toughing sweetness : " My son, do you 
think I have acted through anger? Have not 
you yourself constrained me? Amend, and I 
will gladly give my life blood for you." " He 
had," says Tannoia, "a most admirable charity 
for those who really amended ; he received them 
to his heart with all the tenderness of a father, 
and forgetting their misconduct, never again 
alluded to the sorrow they had caused him. 

An ecclesiastic, belonging to a noble -and dis 
tinguished family, who lived in a most disedifying 
manner, was sent for by the saint three times but 
never deigned a reply. The prelate told his 
vicar to make out a cause against the nobleman, 
and left orders that if he called he was to be sent 


to the vicar. The delinquent hearing this and 
fearing lest his name might figure in the public 
records, hastened to the palace. Being refused 
admittance to the saint s room, he created a 
great disturbance in the ante-chamber, so that the 
invalid was obliged to send for his secretary to 
Irurn the cause of the commotion. The 4< cause " 
followed the official, and Alphonsus seeing him 
enter, immediately referred him to the vicar. 
But the poor man fell on his knees at the foot of 
the bed, saying : " I do not know the Vicar Ru- 
bini, but 1 acknowledge Monsignor Liguori for 
my father." At these words, the servant of God 
became deeply affected : " My son," he said, " I 
sent for you and you would not come ; I was 
obliged to place you in the arms of justice ; you 
know the scandal you have given." Ashamed 
and confused, the delinquent now truly contrite, 
confessed his sin with bitter tears upon the spot, 
adding : " This is my confession ; now do with 
me what you will." " Since you acknowledge 
your fault," said the man of God, with the great 
est sweetness, " and confess the truth to me, I 
leave you to choose your penance." So much 
goodness completely unmanned the penitent ; he 
answered with sobs : " I choose the house of San 
Angelo for my place of retirement, and never 
will I depart from it till God tells me he has for 
given me." Seeing that his repentance was 
sincere, his lordship took the papers which had 
been prepared against him whether as indictment 
or proof, and tearing them in pieces, said : " My 
son, may God do the same in heaven." Fathers 


Caputo, Ferrara and Crisci who were present, 
were filled with admiration at such excessive 
charity. It is pleasant to add that the priest who 
was the object of it became a model of edification 
in the diocese. 

In his eyes the slightest fault was a consider 
able sin when there was question of a priest. 
Thus he severely reprimanded an ecclesiastic who 
went into a public square dressed in a slovenly 
manner. Another who had taken part in a play, 
relying on the protection of the prince in whose 
palace the play was performed, was suspended 
for fifteen days and ordered during that period to 
refrain from saying mass, and remain in the 
strictest retirement. His surveillance extended 
over those portions of other dioceses that touched 
his own ; as soon as anything disedifying hap 
pened, Monsignor Liguori knew all about it ; 
sometimes he knew all without any visible means 
of finding things out, so that certain culprits once 
exclaimed : " It is either an angel or a devil that 
betrays us, and tells him everything." By this 
constant vigilance, and his extraordinary pru 
dence and charity, Bishop Liguori worked the 
complete reformation of his diocese. 

With the regulars, he was still more severe. 
" Edifying religious," said he, " are a consolation 
to bishops and priests, but if religious are imper 
fect, they are a burden to their bishops and a 
misfortune to the people." He spared no pains 
to convert irregular subjects : " For," he remark 
ed, " if they are not cured, their malady will be 
communicated to others ; it is with them as with 


fruits the bad spoil the good by contact, and to 
avoid the loss of all, the bad must be thrown 
away." Besides private reprehensions, he called 
in the aid of their superiors and provincials, and 
if speedy amendment did not follow, he insisted 
on their being sent elsewhere. To one who 
neglected the poor, to visit families of rank, he 
said, alter withdrawing his faculties for hearing 
confessions, " How can you feed the flocks of 
others, who allow your own to be ravaged with 
impunity ? " If application to the superiors or 
provincial foiled to succeed, he appealed, and 
never in vain, to the general of the order. Jn 
one year alone (1768) he compelled as many as 
fifty two to leave his diocese, " I can truly say, 
that during his lordship s time the monasteries 
of the diocese were so many gardens where all 
breathed forth the sweet odors of innocence and 
virtue." Such is the testimony of his grand 
vicar, Rubini, witness, and sometimes minister, 
of his zeal. 

But the servant of God held in particular es 
teem and affection religious who walked worthy 
of their high calling. He appointed them exam 
iners, confided to them the care of many con 
vents ; often sent them to preach the lenten 
sermons, consulted them on knotty questions, 
and liberally rewarded their merit. He took 
particular pleasure in assisting and befriending 
these worthy priests in every possible way. 

The laity were almost as strictly watched over 
as the clergy, especially if their irregularities 
were of a nature injurious to public morality. 


" I am not merely the shepherd of priests and re 
ligious/ said the saint, " a bishop s flock includes 
all classes ; God has confided all these souls to 
us and we must render Him an account of them." 
" Never was there a bishop," says one who knew 
our saint well, " who employed himself in stop 
ping offences against God and procuring the 
good of the faithful with more ardor than 
Monsignor di Liguori." He held sin in such 
abomination that he was implacable in hunting 
it out, even from its most hidden intrenchments.- 
He appealed to magistrates and syndics, and 
with tears besought them to use the strong arm 
of the law against such scandalous sinners as 
lived in open crime. He even, if the expression 
may be applied to his dealings, bribed the 
officials ; a large fraction of his revenue was 
spent in making presents to those among them 
who could inform him of existing scandals and 
aid him in rooting them out. But before calling 
on the secular power, he tried every gentle 
method that his fatherly heart could devise. He 
would send for the offender whether noble or 
plebeian, reprove, entreat, command him and 
not till he was convinced of the inutility of such 
measures, would he adopt more rigorous ones. 
A gentleman of high rank seeing that the vigi 
lant pastor thwarted all his infamous plans, re 
paired to the palace and angrily reproached him 
for not leaving him alone. The saint calmly 
told him he was about to inform the king of his 
il conduct, which gratuitous information excited 
the wretched man to fury. " Ill-treat me," said the 



courageous old man, " abuse me ii you will, I do 
only my duty ; I did not accept the episcopate 
to be damned. Would to God that I might 
have the honor to die a martyr in His cause! 
My dear child, I pity you! return from your 
evil ways, otherwise 1 shall never let you rest in 
your sins." 


The saint s zeal to convert women of irregular lives. He estab 
lishes prisons for the incorrigible. He exiles some. An 
objection answered. Examples. He reproves his secretary s 
remissness. He replenishes the wardrobe of one of his 
proteges. One of the ninety-nine just reproaches him. 
Marriages. His care to preserve the innocence of his lambs, 
The gold necklace. The Most Zealous Doctor. The office 
of a bishop. The saint and the amateur actors. He will not 
allow women to be instructed in the priest s house. Letter 
to the king against duelling. Burthen of the episcopate 
Brother Welcome. The saint s strictness regarding the 
Paschal precept. 

OUR saint was indefatigable in laboring to con 
vert or punish women of irregular lives. He 
entreated them, he warned them, he pictured 
in the burning words of his extraordinary elo 
quence the enormity of their crime, and hell 
yawning beneath their feet; then in order to 
deprive them of all excuse, he offered to main 
tain them. When his Fathers went on missions, 
he recommended them especially to look after 
these unfortunate creatures. " The conversion 
of one of these," said he, " is no small gain. 
Grant them whatever they wish, regardless of 
expense, provided they sincerely renounce their 
shameful course." As some of them unhappily 
would not be converted, and as the prisons al 
ready in existence were in a miserable con 
dition, he got a prison for women built in each 



place ; and when imprisonment did not produce 
the desire effect, he would have them exiled. 
The authorities did not always relish this mode 
of dealing with them. " I have just given an 
order for the banishment you desire," wrote a 
commissioner," and wish nothing worse may re 
sult. But these culprits will go, where, being 
free from your paternal admonitions, and de 
prived of your alms, they will abandon them 
selves to their worst passions." " Let each 
bishop protect his own sheep," replied the saint, 
" and when these miserable people find that they 
are chastised wherever they go, left without 
refuge and covered with infamy, they may open 
their eyes and renounce their sins/ 

One of these women had become quite notor 
ious for her evil behaviour. The saint ordered 
that she should be brought before him. When 
the secretary saw her exceedingly repulsive 
countenance, he hastened to tell his lordship that, 
being as ugly as famine, she was incapable of 
doing harm. " Well, but in time of famine, even 
hemlock is eaten," was the episcopal comment. 
Being severely reproved, she made protestations 
of future good conduct, and explained the misery 
from which her ill life resulted. The saint 
touched by her sorrowful story, forgave her, and 
dismissed her with a considerable alms and a 
paternal admonition. 

The grand vicar, Rubini, used often relate that 
when the bishop received tidings of the arrival 
of some intriguer in the town, he would not sit 
down to table till he had put it out of the power 


of the miscreant to do any harm. " Things of 
this description" said he, " do not admit of any 
delay ; offences against God are in question, and 
if there were but one single sin involved we 
are bound to prevent its commission." " Don 
Felix," said he one day to his secretary, who 
had shown a little remissness in taking steps to 
stop a scandal, " when an offence against God is 
in question, we should leave every thing to put a 
stop to it." 

He spent enormous sums of money in procuring 
the arrest of the incorrigible, and aiding true 
penitents, especially those whose indigence had 
been the occasion of their ruin. Even the soldiers 
could not refrain from extolling his extraordinary 
zeal in this respect. " It is incredible," said one 
of them, " how many sins Monsignor Liguori 
prevented, and how many scandals he extirpated." 
But the joy he experienced when he succeeded 
in converting one of these hapless creatures fully 
repaid his toil. There was no sacrifice which he 
was not ready to make to rescue them from sin 
and misery. A wicked girl, who had ruined soul 
and body by her vices, was at last obliged to seek 
refuge in the hospital of incurables. Our saint 
sent several priests to aid her to save" her soul, 
but it was long before the poor creature yielded 
to the inspirations of grace. When he heard 
that she was beginning to show some good dis 
positions, he shed tears of joy. As her mother 
was a good poor woman, he agreed to her taking 
out the girl, and promised that they should not 
want. The following contains a list of the 


articles which he considered necessary for her 
simple wardrobe. It is taken from a letter 
addressed to the priest Tramontana : 

" I hear this girl is in the greatest destitution ; 
she must then be clothed from head to foot. . . . 
Procure for her two new chemises, a kerchief foi 
the head, and another for the neck, a serge petti 
coat, an under-dress of canvas, a mantle, white 
stockings, and a pair of shoes. ... I should not 
trouble you with all these commissions but that I 
know your great charity. . . . Inform me how 
much money I must send you, because as soon 
as she is clothed I shall make her mother take 
her back." 

His liberality towards these poor penitents did 
not always please the " ninety-nine just." One 
evening, as he was leaving the church, a woman 
thus bitterly reproached him : " Monsignor, it is 
only wicked women that get into your good 
graces ; would to God you had never come here. 
Those who lead virtuous lives need not hope for 
any thing from your lordship." The indignant 
secretary who accompanied him would have 
scolded this woman, but the saint interfered : 
" Be quiet," he commanded, " perhaps the poor 
woman has some want which I can satisfy." 
Then turning to her he said : " I should like to 
assist every body, but I must begin with those 
who are in sin ; it is of urgent importance to free 
them from it," Even some priests thought he 
was too liberal to these persons, and told him 


plainly that not a few of his supposed penitents 
were impostors: "It matters little if I am de 
ceived," he used to reply, "provided I thwart 
the plans of the devil. It is no slight gain if one 
can prevent sin, were it but for a quarter of an 
hour. Besides several of them are really con 
verted and do persevere in virtue." To Arch 
deacon Rainone who suggested that he should 
withdraw the allowance from some whose perse 
verance was doubtful, he said : " If I abandon 
them they may yield to despair ; besides, if they 
commit but one sin less, is not that a great thing 
for God s glory ? " On another occasion he said : 
" I am ready to give my blood and my life for 
these poor penitents ; ii they act sincerely, I will 
not fail to assist them, were I obliged to go with 
out food for that purpose. 

Alphonsus, if he could not induce the persons 
to enter some refuge attached to a religious 
house, endeavored to get them married, and if 
possible to those who had led them astray. He 
was always willing to dower these poor brides 
with a sum that was quite a fortune for an Ital 
ian girl of the humbler class. In these cases he 
dispensed with all fees, and procured the neces 
sary license at his own expense. It was univer 
sally remarked that these marriages turned out 
happy ones, although our saint himself said that 
he did not approve of forced unions, " but," he 
added, " of two evils one must choose the less." 

Though the saint loved to rescue his wander 
ing sheep, he took, if possible, greater pains to 
save the lambs confided to his care. Poor girls 


beyond number owed the preservation of tneir 
honor to his timely alms. He even went so far 
as to procure them innocent adornments to take 
away from them all temptation to envy or sin. 
A poor woman of Cava called to see him one 
day accompanied by her daughter, whose neck 
was graced by that hideous appendage, a goitre. 
The mother took the bishop entirely into her 
confidence, and, among other things, informed 
him that the girl had had an offer of marriage, 
but that she could not procure the indispensable 
tonnino. The puzzled saint, upon further inquiry, 
learned from the lady that this precious article 
was a collar of small gold beads to adorn the 
neck ; upon which the secretary burst into a fit 
of laughter, and volunteered the ungallant remark 
that all the tonnini in the world would not be 
enough to ornament a neck like that. His lord 
ship could not help smiling, but moved with 
compassion, he ordered that the bride elect 
should be given a sum more than sufficient to 
purchase the coveted trinket. No doubt the 
necklace gratified the heart of the poor maiden, 
besides helping her to make a more imposing 
appearance, even if it had the undesirable effect of 
making her deformity appear more conspicuous. 
Were we to mention but half of the instances, 
recorded of the extraordinary and unflagging 
zeal of the saint, our work would necessarily 
appear in many volumes. To prevent sin, to 
destroy the effects of sin, to draw souls to the 
love of Jesus Christ here was the sole aim of 
his life. Verily, we have had a golden-mouthed 


doctor, a seraphic doctor, an angelic doctor, a 
honey-tongued doctor, a subtle doctor, and even 
a monarch of the doctors, but it was not a less 
happy inspiration which styled our great Nea- 
. politan saint, the MOST ZEALOUS DOCTOR. 

There was nothing too high or too low to 
escape the notice of the bishop when there was 
sin, or danger of sin. He was a peace-maker 
among his flock ; enemies were reconciled by his 
gentleness, who had resisted the strongest en 
treaties from other sources. He promoted and 
maintained a good understanding among his 
clergy, regular and secular, and did all in his 
power to make them holy and happy. To bind 
up wounds, to heal dissensions, to unite all, 
clergy and laity, in God^ in charity, such he 
regarded as the chief function of a bishop. 
Whatever seemed an occasion of sin, that he 
strenuously set his face against, using mildness 
or force, meekness or rigor, persuasion or threats, 
irrespective of persons, as occasion seemed to 

Upon arriving at St. Agatha, he learned that 
the principal gentlemen of the place were casting 
a play for the carnival : entitled, " La Contessa 
Sperciasepe." He gave them the spiritual exer 
cises, and immediately after administering to them 
the holy communion, he said to them : " Will 
you not be good enough to do me the kindness 
of adding to the promises you have already made 
to Jesus Christ, that of not acting the comedy?" 
The gentlemen did as he wished, and the play 
was cast in vain. It may be here added that 


actors and strolling players, found little favor 
with a bishop so sternly bent on removing the 
occasions of sin ; though he himself had once 
been a play-goer, and escaped unscathed, he 
bewailed to the last day of his life the moments 
lost at this diversion. 

Hearing that women were instructed in the 
houses of some pastors, he strictly forbade it, 
and commanded that children and others, re 
quiring instructions, should be instructed in the 
church. The barbarous custom of duelling, 
caused him much anxiety. He addressed to the 
king, a learned and elegantly worded memorial 
on this subject, which concluded as follows : 

" SIRE, 

" Your Majesty will greatly enhance your 
glory, if you extirpate from the kingdom, this 
accursed plague spot, which kills life both in 
soul and body. The undersigned, therefore, 
humbly entreats your Majesty, to renew the 
laws published by your predecessors against 
duellists, and cause them to be strictly observed 
by enforcing the penalties against all, but espe 
cially against the military, among whom duels 
are so frequent ; and also to declare that those 
who do not accept a challenge, will preserve 
their office and their honor, but that duellists 
shall always be branded with infamy, as trans 
gressors of the law. 

" This declaration will be especially useful to 
your Majesty at present, as you have established 
the new royal brigade composed of valiant men 


in the flower of their age, whose effervescing 
passions might easily lead them to challenge 
each other in their disputes. Your Majesty s 
soldiers should not lose their blood or their lives 
for a false point of honor, but only for the de 
fence of their faith, and the preservation of their 
prince and country." 

Upon receipt of this admirable letter, the king 
promulgated another very severe law against 

Though our saint s zeal never flagged, though 
his efforts to destroy sin and promote virtue 
were unceasing, yet he often trembled at the 
bare thought of the account he must on the 
judgment day, render to God for the souls 
committed to his care. 

One day, Monsignor Albertini, whose guest 
he was at the time, asked him the number of the 
souls in the diocese of St. Agatha. " Forty 
thousand," replied the saint. " There are as 
many in mine," observed Monsignor Albertini; 
whereupon Alphonsus bent his head, and said : 
" My lord, we have each of us a burden of forty 
thousand hundred weight upon our shoulders , 
woe to us if one of these souls be lost through 
our negligence ! " 

Among other vices, he urged a determined 
war against blasphemy. As the law that com 
pelled a blasphemer to stand in the public square 
had been abolished, he enjoined the magistrates 
to punish this execrable sin by imprisonment. 
There was a public crier nicknamed Brother 
19 * 


Welcome, from having once been a novice with 
the Capuchins, who was greatly given to this 
vice. The saint commissioned his servant 
Alexis to bring him to the palace, but this was 
effected only on the servant s pretence of wish 
ing to learn the price of corn. When the cul 
prit appeared, the bishop plainly told him what 
he wanted with him ; " I hear," he added, " that 
there is not a saint in heaven that you do not 
blaspheme." He threatened to have him ar 
rested and condemned to the galleys, and this 
menace completely cured him. In future when 
ever Alexis chanced to meet Brother Wel 
come, the latter would pleasantly ask him if he 
wanted to know the price of corn. The poor 
brother became a true penitent, and made a 
happy end. 

The saint was very particular in enforcing the 
observance of the paschal precept, and in this 
matter as well as others, he showed how entirely 
devoid of human respect he was. In case of 
failure to comply with it, the first gentlemen in 
the land had to submit to the mortification of 
seeing their names affixed to the church door. 
He ordered priests to refuse the sacraments to 
those who had given public scandal, or neglected 
their duties, however rich and noble they might 
be. A notorious sinner had the boldness to 
present himself, unshrived, to receive Holy 
Communion on Maunday-Thursday ; the bishop 
stopped short before him, and said : " What ! do 
you not blush to approach the altar? We do 
not cast pearls before swine. Unhappy 


change your life." The saint passed on, com 
municating the rest, and the wretched man with 
drew from the communion rail in great confusion, 
but whether he was converted or not, the archives 
do not say. 


Supernatural lights of the saint. Example. Testimony of one of 
his officials. Incident. Persecutions. The saint s goodness 
towards his enemies. His Patience. His exquisite tenderness 
of heart. The Doctor. Trouble in the episcopal kitchen. 
The saint a hero to his valet. His extraordinary meekness and 
humility. Instances. The saint a thorough gentleman. His 
deference and politeness towards his priests. He refuses his 
likeness to his publisher. Alexis obtains it. The device of 
the Congregation. Episcopal immunities not claimed by the 
saint s household. His deference to members of his own Con 
gregation. Father Majone refuses to live at St. Agatha. 

AMONG other rewards which the Great Pastor 
bestowed on the vigilant bishop, may be reckoned 
those particular lights with which he was favored, 
and by which he frequently discovered in a 
supernatural manner, the evil intentions of several 
members of his flock, and hindered their being 
perpetrated in outward actions. One night his 
own cook and his coachman agreed to commit a 
grievous crime, but being suddenly seized with 
fear, they happily desisted. At daybreak our 
saint summoned them to his presence, and having 
reproached them with his accustomed fervor, ex 
horted them to prepare for confession. 

" It was marvellous," said one of his priests. 
" that many things of which we were ignorant 
came to his lordship s knowledge. Iniquity 
committed at dead of night, or in a distant village 
was made known to him instantaneously, and he 
would caution us to take immediate measures 


against it." There was a notary in the diocese 
whose misconduct was a source of grief to the 
aged prelate. Having reprimanded him several 
times without any good result, he warned him 
with tears that the life he was leading would 
bring him to a miserable end. When this un 
happy man was waiting in the prison chapel to 
be conducted to the scaffold in January 1800 
he had just been condemned to lose his head for 
participating in the conspiracy of the Jacobins 
he said weeping : " This death was foretold me 
in my youth by Monsignor Liguori." Although 
up to that moment, he had remained hardened in 
his guilt, the remembrance of the gentle but 
fervid admonitions of the saint, who had so often 
vainly claimed him as a son, caused him to reflect 
then, to repent sincerely, and fortified by the 
sacraments of the Church he died full of hope 
and peace, invoking the saint in heaven who had 
wept over his follies on earth. 

Those who were the objects of the saint s zeal 
were not, very naturally, always pleased with his 
efforts to reclaim them, and it sometimes happened 
that the excitable people, among whom his lot 
was cast, loaded him with injuries, and not only 
threatened his life, but almost attempted to take 
it. The saint made ample allowance for the 
effervescing character common among his 
countrymen, and bore their insults as well as 
their weakness with incomparable meekness and 
charity. " When charity is patient," said he, " it 
is also kind ; if we are really anxious to win to 
Jesus Christ those who do us harm, we must do 


them good." Upon this principle he used to 
shower all possible kindness on those who ill- 
treated him. 

A priest who was exasperated, because the 
saint had inflicted some punishment on his brother, 
came into his presence and bitterly reviled him : 
" Do you not see," said he " you are unfit for 
your office ? How much better had you remained 
at Ciorani to weep over your sins, rather than 
come here to play the role of bishop?" The 
saint smiled sweetly on his adversary, but the 
grand vicar requested that the delinquent should 
be deprived of his post. Alphonsus not only did 
not accede to this request, but promoted him to 
the next vacancy. 

A gentleman whose evil plans had been 
thwarted by the bishop, came to the palace in a 
rage and asked to see him. Volleys of abuse 
burst from the lips of this poor crazy sinner, and 
as his insolence was speedily made known to the 
governor, the latter hastened to imprison him. 
When this news reached the ears of Alphonsus, 
he was greatly distressed, and sending for the 
magistrate begged the release of the prisoner, 
nor would he desist till he procured his liberty, 
that very day. 

In the case of another who had grievously in 
jured him, the saint acted in a similar manner. 
The grand vicar, Rubini, was greatly displeased, 
and earnestly entreated him to allow the culprit 
to be left in prison, as the governor had just in 
carcerated him. Rubini expatiated particularly 
on the dignity of Don Alphonsus Liguori, 


and on that of the bishop of St. Agatha. " What 
position, what dignity," exclaimed the prelate, 
" if people must be put in prison on my ac 
count ! " He would not rest until the offender 
had been released. 

To a priest who threatened to injure him and 
his Congregation with their enemy, the procura 
tor-general at Naples, Alphonsus turned a deaf 
ear. The grand vicar who could not bear to 
see the saint insulted, wanted to interfere, but 
he prevented him. Some time after the priest 
fell ill. The saint immediately visited him and 
showed him every possible kindness. He con 
tinued to assist him until his death which 
occurred soon after. 

Instances of the extraordinary meekness of 
our saint are as numerous as those of his 
wonderful zeal. One day, an ecclesiastic from 
the country insulted him grossly. Archdeacon 
Rainone, who was present, was not pleased by 
the gentleness which knew not how to take 
offence : " My lord," said he, " the manner in 
which you act is degrading to your character 
and encourages the wicked." " Oh, my dear 
canon," returned the saint, " I have been labor 
ing for forty years to gain a little patience and 
you want me to lose it all in a moment." " Our 
saint," said the Dominician Father Caputo, 
" acquired such complete control over himself, 
that he no longer seemed human, but rather 
an angelic being in the form of a man." " I 
know not," said Rainone, " whether he bore 
insults more like an incarnate angel or a perfect 


Neither years nor sorrows abated the exquisite 
tenderness of heart which our saint habitually 
displayed. " You cannot imagine," he wrote to 
a penitent at Naples, " how much it costs me to 
use severity towards certain persons ; I think 
one succeeds better by gentleness." He would 
weep if obliged to reprimand sternly, and his 
tears more than once touched the hardened hearts 
of some whom his eloquence had failed to move. 
If he only spoke a little too strongly, he was 
sure to do some kindness to the person to whom 
his words had been addressed. Once having 
spoken authoritatively to his physician, he 
presently sent for him to feel his pulse. " But," 
said the doctor afterwards, " he was very well, 
and only made use of this harmless stratagem to 
show that he harbored no ill will towards me." 

The troubles of the episcopal kitchen not un- 
frequently ascended to the audience-room. 
One day the cook and the scullion became so 
animated in a dispute, that the latter brandished 
a knife which caused his adversary to beat 
an ignominous retreat. The ruler of the kitchen 
rushed into the saint s room, and held the door 
firmly closed, but the scullion who seemed re 
solved on killing him, pushed it violently from 
outside ; Alphonsus ordered the door to be 
opened, and with a look and a gentle wore 3 
calmed the infuriated menial. The officials of 
the palace wanted to have the hero of the knife 
dismissed and imprisoned, but the saint preferred 
to reconcile enemies, and from that day these 
two servants were the best of friends. 


Tannoia testifies that Bishop Liguori s meek 
ness was perfect. Brother Francis Anthony 
who lived with him fifty years, declared that 
whether with his brethren of the Congregation 
or with strangers, he always evinced unalterable 
sweetness and equanimity ; Father Tannoia who 
was in close communication with him for forty 
years attests the same ; and the venerable priest 
Arcieri invariably described him as the Francis 
de Sales of the age. The saint himself said with 
unwonted energy : " There is nothing more 
unseemly in a bishop than anger. A bishop who 
gives way to this passion is no longer the father 
of his flock ; he is an intractable tyrant who 
draws upon himself universal hatred." 

The humility of the saint was not less admir 
able than his meekness. Entirely detached from 
the world, which he regarded as vanity and 
dross, he gloried not in the nobility of his 
origin, and would not allow the great achieve 
ments of his ancestors to be mentioned in his 
presence. When one of his guests happened to 
mention the honors and dignity which his 
deceased cousin the Count Cavalieri enjoyed 
while governor of Mantua, the saint exclaimed : 
11 How much more should I rejoice if I heard 
him praised for his virtue ! How much more 
proud of him would I be if his death had been 
the death of a saint ! " 

In his palace the saint was more like a servant 
than a master. He made his bed, cleaned out 
his room, dressed the issue which annoyed him 
for years, and never allowed a valet to assist 


him in dressing or undressing. " By God s 
grace," said he one day, " I have never yielded 
to vain glory. Yet once, while I was being in 
censed on my throne, I experienced a sort of 
pleasing sensation. Now see how the devil tried 
to tempt me." 

The holy bishop as far as possible dispensed 
with all the state and attendants which were con 
sidered, in his age and country, as essential to the 
episcopal dignity. He went out alone, especially 
to his devotions in the church. If he found the 
door closed, he would patiently await the coming 
of the sacristan. The slightest mark of deference 
was more annoying than pleasing to him. He 
would give the/tfj to any one that happened to 
come across him, and when walking or driving 
with any of his clergy, he declined the post of 
honor, and made another take it. Nothing 
grieved him more than to be made the object of 
any special attention. The officials in his house 
who were kept partly for state, soon found their 
office the merest sinecure. 

So far was Alphonsus from domineering over 
his clergy that, in things lawful and indifferent, 
he was submissive even to his servants. Judging 
from the copious details left by his biographers, 
his manners in private life were those of a per 
fect gentleman. The saints as a class have been 
distinguished for their exquisite urbanity, and 
Alphonsus is remarkable for this, even among the 
saints. No word ever escaped him which deno 
ted arrogance or a domineering spirit. Even to 
the lowest among his servants, he never spoke 


but in such terms as these : " Do me the kind 
ness Have the goodness to I beg you to do 
such a thing &c.," But towards his priests, his 
conduct ever displayed the most extraordinary 
deference. He would never, during the whole 
time he was paralyzed, allow a priest to wait on 
him ; nor would he ask a priest to do him the 
slightest service ; if, while one priest or more, 
were in his room, he wanted his pen or a book 
or anything else, not being able to reach his 
half paralyzed arm for it, he would ring for the 
lay -brother who waited on him in his illness. 

Nor would he give an order to a priest but 
by way of a request. When he wanted Don 
Bartolini to continue the spiritual exercises in a 
convent a few days beyond the ordinary time, 
instead of commanding, he said : " Don Pascal, 
the nuns would like to have you a little longer." 
" Your lordship can dispose of me," returned the 
priest: " You have but to command." "True, 
said the polite bishop, " but a superior ought to 
be discreet." If a request sufficed, he would 
deem it wrong to command. 

He used to say that a tone of superiority can 
only diminish the authority of a bishop ; yet if 
he were resisted in a thing he had a right to de 
mand, he would let it be seen that he was a 
bishop, though, however great his firmness, he 
always spoke politely and never said anything 
offensive. When he wrote to his vicars and 
priests, he always gave them the title of Most 
Illustrious, though he declined it for himself. In 
dealing with the superiors of religious houses, 


he almost put himself in the position of a sub 
ject. Happening to go to the Capuchin Church 
on St. Anthony s day, and seeing that it was 
quite crowded, he turned to the superior and 
said in the humblest manner : " Father Guardian, 
if you permit it, I should like to say a lew words 
to these people." He acted in a similar man 
ner towards all ecclesiastics, especially those in 
office, nor would he officiate in their churches 
at any unusual time without asking permission. 

He would not allow the simplest cleric to re 
main standing in his presence. Whoever called 
to see him, whether priest or layman was invited 
to his table, for he was the soul of hospitality, 
and for admission to his humble board no pom 
pous invitation was necessary. He loved to 
converse with the rude and illiterate and to in 
quire into their affairs, hence they were always 
kindly received in his palace. Father Fatigati, 
the great friend of Alphonsus, made the follow 
ing observation to Father Tannoia : " During my 
life I have known two bishops who were thor 
ough gentlemen, and who took pleasure in being 
with the poorest people and treating them with 
familiarity ; these were Monsignor Liguori and 
Monsignor Borgia." 

Our saint s publisher, Remondini, wishing to 
give greater value to his Morals, besought him 
to have his portrait taken, for a frontispiece. 
The aged author laughed at what he considered 
the absurdity of such a request, and on being 
urged by his secretary to consent, said : " Do not 
speak to me of such a thing ; my work would 


only be depreciated in value if the head of such 
a mummy were put in it. The publisher was 
not to be daunted, however. He gained his 
cause with Alexis, the servant, who secretly 
made a hole in the door of the episcopal dining 
room, and thus a painter was able to trace his 
venerable features while he took his repast. 

The arms of the noble house of Liguori were 
not to be seen in the vicinity of Alphonsus, he 
preferred the device he had chosen for his 
Congregation, and this consisted of the instru 
ments of the Passion, with the appropriate verse. 
Copiosa apud Eum redemptio, With Him there is 
plentiful redemption. When the arms of his 
predecessor were removed from some episcopal 
vestments, lest the sight might prove offensive to 
the saint, he ordered them to be replaced, asking 
whether the ceremonies, during which these 
vestments were to be worn, would be of less 
value on that account. His brother, Count 
Hercules, once made him a present of a magnifi 
cent piece of cloth, which the saint had made 
into vestments. When the canon, spoke of 
having them adorned with the arms of his house, 
he rejected the proposition on the plea that what 
he had expended for the making of them had not 
come from his personal income, but from the 
episcopal revenues, of which he did not consider 
himself the owner. 

Nor would the holy bishop allow any of his 
household to avail themselves of the im 
munities which custom seemed to authorize. 
" Formerly," said the agent of the Duke of Mad- 


dalon, " no one dared to bring before the courts 
of justice, any of those who were attached to the 
bishop s establishment, such as farmers, &c., but 
in Monsignor s time, the horror he had for all 
sorts of unjust pre-eminence, caused him to 
abolish these privileges." 

When he required anything unusual of his 
own subjects, he entreated it as a personal favor. 
As founder and superior-general of the Congre 
gation, he had a right to claim the services of 
any member of it, but he did not do so. Desir 
ing to have Father Majone to assist him at St 
Agatha, he had the mortification to learn that 
this Father did not wish to go. " This gives me 
great pain," he wrote to Father Villani, " I want 
an able subject, who can assist me in difficult 
cases ; for I am surrounded by a thousand dif 
ficulties. . . . Try to induce him to aid me 
willingly ; me, a poor old man weighed down by 
cares and crosses. Tell him he will thereby be 
sure of doing God s will, and that he will do me 
a great charity. ... I say willingly, for other 
wise he would be more burdensome than useful." 


Wonderful charity towards the poor. The saint s present to his 
sister-in-law. He does not wish her to remain too long at his 
palace. His preference for the poor. The fair at Maddalon. 
Alphonsus care of the bashful poor. Instances. The poor 
noble. How a bishop should act with regard to giving charity : 
How the saint acted when poverty was an occasion of sin. 
His privileged poor. His charity to pilgrims and strangers. 
To members of his household. Testimony of an eye-witness. 
Prisoners. St. Misery. Mario. All misfortune appeals to 
the saint. Letters. Indignation of the saint at the imprison 
ment of one of his servants. The smuggler. The Albanian 

THE saint s charity to the poor has already been 
alluded to, but it would not be possible to des 
cribe it fully. His palace was open to all, and 
he never sent away any one till he had relieved 
his wants. Rubini affirms that he gave all his 
income, subtracting officials salaries and the 
expenses of his table, to the poor. On Wednes 
days and Fridays, there was a general distribu 
tion of alms, but the needy came on all days, some 
asking for sugar, some for salt, some for lard, some 
for money. They applied to him also for medi 
cines, and he continually kept a stock of quinine 
and other simple remedies for their use. Accord 
ing to the united testimony of his biographers, 
he not only deprived himself of necessaries for 
the poor, but contracted heavy debts to relieve 


When Count Hercules and his second wife, 
the Countess Marianna, came to visit him, the 
grand vicar suggested that he ought to make 
the bride a present. He immediately sent her a 
garland of flowers which had been presented to 
himself. When the trifling nature of the gift was 
represented to him, he replied : " Do you want 
me to rob the poor, in order to make presents to 
my sister-in-law?" The countess took pleasure 
in prolonging her stay at St. Agatha, but the 
saint did not like the expense of entertaining her 
retinue and he plainly but very politely intim 
ated the same to Don Hercules. " It would be 
pleasant to me to keep your retinue a long time," 
said he, " but how could I meet the expense it 
entails? What one takes from the Church, one 
takes from the poor." 

When candidates for offices in his household 
presented themselves, he always chose the 
poorest, if they were as fit as the others. When 
he read of anything in particular done by some 
saint for the poor, he presently endeavored to 
imitate it. Once a recently elected prior of the 
Dominicans sent him a present of excellent fish. 
The same day the brother read spiritual lecture 
for him out of the life of the Venerable 
Bartholomew, and, coming to a passage where 
it says, that the Archbishops of Prague were in 
the habit of sending a certain fish to the king 
every year on a particular solemnity, and that 
Bartholomew in consideration of the expense of 
this, resolved to employ the money in the service 
of the poor, his Lordship thus interrupted the 


reading : * To-morrow there will be a fair at 
Maddalon; take care to sell the fish and give 
the money to the poor." It being objected that 
it was too trifling a thing, and that the payment 
of the man for selling it would amount to more 
than the fish was worth, he replied : " I know 
nothing about that; do as I tell you." 

The good bishop charged himself with antici 
pating the wants of the bashful poor, and always 
ordered the priests to make them known to him. 
He secretly supplied whole families with food 
and clothing, and gave several others a monthly 
allowance of from five to six or more ducats. 
Hearing that a young orphan of rank lived in 
great misery, he immediately charged himself 
with her maintainance, and amply supplied her 
necessities through the medium of her parish 
priest. To a lady, mother of a numerous family, 
who was in great distress, her husband being a 
gambler, he sent a supply of corn every month ; 
but the gambler got some one to go for the alms 
in his wife s name, and he no sooner laid hold of 
it than he sold it and gambled the proceeds. 
Alphonsus then sent the allowance in the absence 
of the gambler, but hearing that he again got 
hold of it, he secretly sent the poor woman a 
monthly stipend by a priest. 

Though our saint, on the whole, disliked visits, 
he took pleasure in receiving certain reduced 
noblemen, and one in particular who had a very 
large family. In relieving the poverty of this 
family, the saint exercised the most refined 
delicacy in deceiving the excusable pride of the 



indigent nobleman. One of the king s officers, 
whose family was too large for his income, in 
formed the bishop of his position, and while his 
regiment remained at St. Agatha, a monthly 
allowance was given him from the episcopal 

" Whoever is raised to the episcopacy," said 
the saint, " ought to think a great deal about the 
poor, whose tears no one thinks of drying ; it is 
they who are chiefly recommended to us by 
Jesus Christ." One day when he was with the 
bishops of Gaeta and Fondi, who were both his 
penitents, the conversation turned upon alms 
giving. " As to that," remarked his lordship of 
Gaeta, " I do not believe 1 am much in fault ; 
thanks be to God, I give largely to all who ask 
me." " It strikes me that you act as a priest 
rather than as a bishop," returned the saint; 
" you do not understand the meaning of these 
words of the Gospel : " Let not thy left hand 
know what thy right hand giveth. I advise 
you to think, in giving alms in secret, of widows, 
of families in trouble and of the poor who hide 

When poverty became an occasion of sin, the 
saint was even prodigal in relieving it. Hear 
ing that the six children of a poor woman 
shared the same bed, he instantly sent thither all 
that was necessary to remedy this ; he was 
always particular in this regard with the poor, 
and desired to be informed where families were 
too poor to procure as many beds for their chil 
dren as decency and modesty require. Not only 


did he keep a well stocked storeroom for his 
poor, but he bought a great quantity of stuffs of 
various kinds to help to clothe them. He called 
the nuns of the Holy Redeemer his privileged 
poor, and he extended the same epithet to those 
of St. Philip, and the Capuchinesses. Besides 
alms in money, he every year supplied them 
with stores of oil, corn and wine. The money 
he received on his pastoral visitations he remitted 
to his vicars, to be distributed among poor 
families. His charity embraced the poor of his 
whole diocese. If he found among his letters a 
petition from a poor person, he would joyously 
exclaim : " Ah, this pleases me : it is a request 
for charity." 

Though the saint considered it his chief duty 
to aid the poor of his own diocese, yet he was 
liberal even towards strangers and pilgrims. 
One of these who was of noble birth had a regular 
weekly allowance from him, and as this did not 
at times cover his expenses, he would come to 
the palace and insist upon having more. On one 
of these occasions the saint said with ineffable 
gentleness : " My son I am overburdened with 
poor, and I know not what more I can sell to aid 
them, be satisfied for the present, and God will 
provide the rest." But as the man went off 
grumbling, he sent after him, and gave him twenty 
carlins. He was particularly kind to the sick of 
his own household, and never failed to visit them 
daily. When his servant Alexis became ill, he 
allowed his wife a sum sufficient to meet her 
expenses, and promised in case of her husband s 


death to allow her his wages as long as she 

The following testimony of a priest, who knew 
our saint well, may fittingly conclude this subject : 

" I was filled with admiration at the acts of 
charity this saintly old man practised, especially 
towards the sick. 

" Infirm, paralytic, bending under the weight of 
seventy -seven years, he still continued to go about 
the neighborhood to visit the sick. To see an 
old man almost wasted away, so weak as to re 
quire the aid of myself and his attendant in getting 
in and out of the carriage, to see such a one enter 
houses in search of the suffering was a sight 
which I could not contemplate without tears. I 
asked him one day how he, who received daily 
the visits of two medical men, could continue to 
visit the sick, he said with vivacity : " What sort 
of charity should I have, were I not able to suffer 
something for my children ? O how much greater 
are the obligations of a bishop than those of any 
other Christian ! I will even say, of any other 
ecclesiastic ! The shepherd who watches over 
his flock properly must not forget his sick sheep, 
but should take care of them according to their 

His presence among the sick and afflicted was 
as the presence of an angel. He exhorted them 
to patience, he encouraged them to receive all 
trials as punishments sent by God ; he disposed 
them to receive the sacraments, he inspired them 
with love and confidence towards the Blessed 


Virgin, whose picture he always gave them. He 
inquired into their wants and had them supplied 

The saint loved to visit prisoners, and in case 
of those incarcerated for debt, he usually freed 
them himself, by defraying the claims of their 
creditors, or at least interceding for them. At 
the opening of one of his pastoral visitations, he 
told the people how ardently his heart desired to 
relieve all their miseries and assuage all their 
sorrows, and expressed regret that his poverty 
would not allow him to do all his love wished. 
At this, a wit, named Mario, turned to the priest 
and said jestingly, " We have at last found our 
prefect," in allusion to a confraternity, called in 
derision, of St. Misery. When this was repeated 
to his lordship he only laughed, but hearing soon 
after that Mario was in prison for debt and his 
family starving, he remembered the witticism and 
said laughing : " We must assist him since 
he is our fellow-member." He then paid the debt, 
and as Mario was in debt elsewhere, he settled 
on him a monthly allowance. 

Every description of misfortune appealed to 
Alphonsus as to the refuge of all; smugglers, 
criminals of every shade, conscious guilt and 
oppressed innocence all recurred to the mercy 
of the tender hearted bishop. His letters to 
persons in authority and to his personal friends 
teem with requests like the following : 

" Take pity on this unfortunate man and do not 
have the cruelty to allow him to die in prison. 



My dear Don Carlo, do me this kindness and I 
will not fail to recommend you to God. ... I 
hope you will kindly give me this consolation, 
and spare me the sorrow of hearing that he has 
died in his mournful prison, and perhaps destitute 
of spiritual aid." 

Hearing that one Mark Berjamo was about to 
be ejected from his farm, and the said Mark 
having appealed to him, he wrote to Don Pavone, 
the landlord, as follows : 

" I assure you that this farmer is an honest man, 
and if he has not satisfied you it is not his fault. 
I therefore earnestly entreat you to leave him 
in his farm, and to treat him with all the charity 
with which your good heart is filled : I shall 
never cease to be grateful to you for what you 
shall do in his favor." 

This compassion our saint had sometimes to 
exercise at his own expense. One of his servants 
who had been robbing the episcopal storerooms 
for a long time was found out at last, and lodged 
in jail by his indignant companions. When the 
saint heard this he reproved them severely. 
" What ! " he cried " imprison a poor creature for 
a few apples ! go to the magistrate directly and 
get him set at liberty. " 

Among the saint s correspondence we find 
numerous letters regarding the relief and release 
of prisoners. Indeed the great and the powerful 
who were friendly to him had often to show their 
friendship, with regard to the unfortunate, for it 
was impossible to resist the pleadings of his 


paternal heart. As privilege of sanctuary was 
then allowed, he was greatly pained to hear that 
a poor man who had smuggled some tobacco, 
and, on being discovered, taking refuge in a 
church, had been dragged from that holy place 
and cast into prison. "Our immunities are in 
question," said he, " and I would sell my mitre 
to obtain justice. " He immediately demanded 
the release of the delinquent, and would not rest 
till he had obtained it. 

Five Albanian soldiers having deserted, were 
rash enough to turn their arms against the 
officers who were sent in pursuit of them. Two 
were killed, and the survivors being captured, 
application was made to the bishop to know if, 
under the circumstances, they could enjoy the 
privilege of sanctuary. They unfortunately 
could not, but as he abhorred the thought of 
imbruing his hands in their blood, he would give 
no decision. "My Lord," said one official to 
him, " your pity injures the culprits, for now 
that the mixed court must decide their case, they 
will surely be condemned to death. " These 
words so alarmed the saint that he immediately 
sent for the commanding officer and asked what 
could be done for these unfortunate men. 
" Nothing but your intercession can save them, " 
was the reply ; whereupon the saint immediately 
despatched couriers to Prince Jaci, to the Mar 
quises of Tannuci and Marco, and to the secretary 
of war, to ask the pardon of these criminals, say 
ing that, if he were not assured of their safety, his 
own life would be endangered ; for, paralytic as he 


was, he would go in person and throw himself at 
the feet of the king. To the amazement of every 
one, they received a complete pardon, and soon 
after came, accompanied by an officer of justice, 
to thank their deliverer. He received them with 
the greatest joy, remonstrated with them as a 
tender father, and labored to save their souls as 
he had already saved their bodies. 


The saint s hospitality. The Archpriest and his companions. The 
bishop s coachman. The saint s disinterestedness. Instances. 
His advice to Bishop Rossi. His care of the episcopal pro 
perty. His dislike of lawsuits. Letter. His elegant courtesy 
towards the Duke of Maddalon. His efforts to improve his 
lands, &c. His interest in the culture of olives, mulberry 
trees, &c. The raising of silk-worms. He beautifies the 
episcopal gardens. 

WE shall here allude once more, to the hospitality 
and other virtues which Alphonsus invariably 
practised. All priests, students and even agents 
of priests, who came to St. Agatha were invited 
to stay at the palace. Priests who came to give 
the spiritual exercises, or act as extraordinary 
confessors, had the same general invitation. The 
archpriest of Durazzano who did not know of 
this universal hospitality, asked Alphonsus on 
one occasion, whether he might remain at the 
palace during his stay at St. Agatha. " By all 
means," said Alphonsus, and perceiving that two 
gentlemen who accompanied him were about to 
start for the hotel, he would not allow it, but 
commanded them also to stay, saying that the 
house of a bishop is at the service of all, espe 
cially ecclesiastics. On these occasions, which 
indeed were frequent, often daily, the episcopal 
table was better supplied than when there was 
no company, which made one of his guests 
20 * 


laughingly ask : " How does this sumptuousness 
agree with the poverty of your lordship?" 
" Hospitality," exclaimed the saint, "is the 
daughter of charity not of poverty." 

The palace was frequently turned into a pub 
lic hospital. If his guests or their servants took 
ill, he would not allow them to leave, but had 
them carefully nursed and supplied with medical 
attendance at his own expense. When Bishop 
Borgia s coachman fell ill, while his master was 
conferring with the saint, he was immediately 
placed in a comfortable room, and as his illness 
became serious, the last sacraments were admin 
istered, and his host frequently came to assist and 
console him. The son of the coachman came 
from Naples to see his father, and he too was re 
ceived with the greatest kindness, and made 
remain until the invalid was perfectly recovered ; 
for a month, Alphonsus watched over the con 
valescence of this humble servant, saw that light 
and nutritious food was served to him, and 
treated him with the greatest consideration. 
According to the testimony of the saint himself, 
his palace was almost always full, and he was 
sometimes obliged even to borrow beds. 

Our saint s disinterestedness lessened the re 
venues of his diocese at least one half, " I have 
retrenched many of the sums I formerly received," 
he wrote, " for I felt scrupulous about them, and I 
think with reason. ... I consider it a very good 
kind of alms to decline marriage fees, especially 
if there is poverty or danger in question. ... I 
often remit considerable sums, and those who 


serve me know what a horror I should feel in 
violently exacting what is due to me." He re 
fused to receive anything for ordinations, saying : 
" What has come to me gratuitously ought to be 
given away for nothing." Nor would he accept 
of the ordinary offerings made at the reception 
or profession of nuns, " I cannot ask anything for 
these ceremonies," said he, " since nothing has 
been fixed by Pope Innocent III." 

There were sixty-four very rich chapels in the 
diocese, the administrators of which were obliged 
to pay the bishop a considerable sum at the pa- 
tronal feast of each, but he generally left this in 
their hands for the poor of the place. The people 
of this diocese were noted for being very gener 
ous to their pastors, but the saint would never 
receive a present from the poor, knowing that 
his duty was to nourish rather than impoverish 
them. When he elevated priests to canonries or 
other offices, he declined to accept any present 
on the occasion, saying : " One ought not to re 
ceive any present for doing one s duty." 

With regard to the episcopal farms, he was 
most careful that the farmers should not make 
bargains injurious to their own interests. In a 
word, says his grand vicar, Rubini, he made so 
many deductions that he never had a tenant who 
paid him the full amount. 

Alphonsus ejected from a house of his a 
woman against whom several false reports had 
been made him. The poor woman began a 
novena to St. Joseph, and then appealed to him 
in person. Having asked to what saint she was 


most devoted, she replied, " St. Joseph." " Ah, 
well," he continued, for he had already been un 
deceived, " St. Joseph has been gracious to you, 
and has ordered me not to turn you out." This 
was not enough ; the petitioner complained the 
rent was high. " How much do you wish to 
pay?" he asked. " Twenty-one "ducats," said 
the tenant who had previously been paying 
twenty-seven. The saint agreed to this, but 
after his resignation she was obliged to pay 

On one occasion the bishop found that a 
steward had a deficit, amounting to about one 
fifth of the episcopal revenues, but, as he con 
fessed his fault with tears, the easy master sent him 
away in peace. Several people said such a culprit 
should be brought to justice. " What do you say 
about justice ?" exclaimed the saint with emo 
tion : " This man has satisfied justice by confessing 
his fault, what a sight it would be a bishop 
bringing an unfortunate man to the courts to ruin 
him outright, for sake of his own interests?" 
We may add here that the saint was particularly 
exact in paying the wages of his servants and 
workmen ; he often even forced payment on them 
for mere trifles. " I am an old man of ninety," 
said Father Raphael de Ruvo, " and yet 1 never 
saw a prelate so charitable and disinterested as 
Monsignor Liguori. His purse was always 
op*n to give, and closed only against receiving," 
everything was gratis for others, but he paid 
doubly what he himself owed. " When the 
saint s successor visited him, he gave him this 


advice : My Lord, if you wish to do good and to 
succeed at St. Agatha, dispose of your own 
purse, but never of that of others." 

The saint, however, knew how to distinguish 
between his own personal interests and those of 
the episcopal revenue. One day a priest said to 
him with reference to a yearly tribute due the 
bishop : " I cannot see what gave rise to this 
custom, would it not be better to give this 
tribute to the poor?" It is I who have to give 
the alms," said Alphonsus quietly, and he de 
clared he would not do anything calculated to 
injure the rights of his successor. On hearing 
that the syndic (mayor) of Arienzo had hindered 
a priest from sending his dues to the cathedral, 
he wrote to all his priests advising them to state 
the matter to the royal council, adding that if the 
syndic or any other official prevented justice 
being done, he himself would undertake to defend 
the canon law. Yet he hated lawsuits of every 
kind, and was accustomed to say that a bad ac 
commodation is better than a good lawsuit. He 
endeavored to settle by arbitration some difficulty 
he had with a certain priest, and sent for him 
several times without even receiving an answer. 
At last he wrote in the following humble strain : 
" If I had a carriage, I would have sent it for you 
long ago ; come, I entreat you." 

In a dispute which arose between the saint and 
his friend, the Duke of Maddalon, regarding the 
right of pasturage over a fief belonging to the 
episcopal revenue, he wrote to the ducal agent : 
" I am obliged to defend the property of the see, 


which possesses the double right of pasturage 
and lordship. ... If I be pushed to extremities 
I will apply directly to the Regency. . . Could 
I reconcile it to my conscience, I would yield 
up my rights and say no more of this affair. 
God knows how I detest lawsuits, the very name 
makes me tremble; yet how can I yield after 
having taken an oath to defend the rights of my 
church ? .... This weighs upon my con 
science, otherwise I would yield directly." 
Nevertheless the saint, with that elegant 
courtesy which always distinguished him, placed 
the whole business in the hands of one of the 
defendant s lawyers a delicacy of politeness 
which so disarmed the generous nobleman that 
he ordered his agent to leave things as they had 
formerly been, and pay up all the arrears which 
the bishop could claim. Indeed every one who 
knew Alphonsus, believed, with the Neapolitan 
lawyers, that, " what is taken from Monsignor 
Liguori is taken from the poor." 

A poor gentleman whose family was very 
large had great difficulty in paying for one of 
the episcopal farms which he rented, and got the 
Lady Catherine di Lucca to intercede for him. 
The saint not only remitted the debt, but gave 
him a monthly allowance of corn. Yet to prevent 
injury to the episcopal property, the debtor was 
obliged to appear every year with the rent, which 
the saint accepted and then gave back to him as 
an alms. In consequence of the saint s judicious 
administration, the property greatly increased in 
value. He was careful to have dead trees re- 


moved and new ones planted, especially olive 
trees, so useful in Italy. He would not leave the 
episcopal gardens so bare and unsightly as he 
found them, but had them profusely planted with 
lemon and orange trees, flowers of every hue 
and variety for the altar, and the plants and 
vegetables most useful for the kitchen and for 
medicinal purposes ; thus giving employment to 
many hands, and spreading among the humble 
classes knowledge of the most useful kind. We 
may well believe that the aspect of the episcopal 
city was greatly beautified under a bishop who 
was an elegant amateur in horticulture and arch 
itecture, as well as in music and painting. But 
he did not confine himself to the beautiful ; he 
was still more anxious to promote the useful ; 
and as the raising of silk was the great industry 
of the people of his diocese, he paid particular 
attention to the cultivation of mulberry trees, 
carefully informing himself as to whether the 
white or black mulberry yielded the most profit 
able leaves, and propagating only the best 


How the saint practised holy poverty. He wears out the old clothes 
of Bishop Danza. He replenishes his wardrobe from an old 
clothes shop. Putting in new sleeves. "Old things suit an 
old bishop." Letter of Don Spota. Why the saint practised 
economy. Details. Opinion of the bishop of Caserto. The 
saint s episcopal ring. He will use only the produce of his 
own diocese. His mortification. Incident. He takes vinegar 
for wine. Fruit sent to him does not stop at its destination. 
Why he did not keep caged birds. The harpsichord. Rubini s 

As our saint was a member, or rather the 
founder of a religious congregation, he was 
eminent also in the virtues which may be re 
garded as peculiar to the religious life, and 
especially holy poverty. By this virtue, made 
obligatory by vow, the religious not only re 
nounces all property in earthly things, but 
detaches his heart from them, and endeavors to 
assimilate himself to the poor in spirit, to whom 
belongs the kingdom of heaven. On his eleva 
tion to the episcopate, Alphonsus could not avoid 
procuring one violet suit, but when this, and 
it was of the plainest description, was worn out, 
he was satisfied with the old robes of his pre 
decessor, and used no others during the thirteen 
years he governed the See of St. Agatha. The 
habit of his congregation was his ordinary dress, 
because nothing plainer could be devised. He 
had but one, and while that was mending, he was 


obliged to have recourse to Bishop Danza s old 
wardrobe, or remain in his room. One day as 
he was passing- by the Dominican monastery in a 
cassock pretty well patched, but out at the 
elbows, one of the fathers could not forbear com 
passionating such poverty. The saint pleasantly 
accounted for it by saying that he had sent to an 
old clothes shop in Naples for four articles of 
clothing, but that they had not yet reached him. 
On one occasion, a brother adroitly substi 
tuted a new habit for the old one. " Ah," said 
the saint next morning, " you have been putting 
in new sleeves." "Yes, monsignor, the others 
were too much worn," was the reply. But later 
in the day finding the whole garment was new, 
he said in a tone of authority which he rarely 
assumed : " I am the master here, and I think 
this cassock is quite new." " Well," said the 
brother, apologetically, " the other was no longer 
decent." " Never mind that," said his lordship, 
" bring it hither." The excuse for its non- 
appearance was that it had been given to a beggar. 
" You will always act of your own accord, was 
the bishop s indignant comment." Hempen 
shirts and a habit of common cloth, dyed black, 
composed his wardrobe ; his rosary was of wood, 
and his garments were such that the beggars 
used to refuse them. The laundress having com 
plained that his shirts fell to pieces in her hands, 
Father Telesca told him he ought to get new 
ones. " Old things suit an old bishop," observed 
the saint ; " besides I ought to think of clothing 
the poor." 


Don Dominic Spota, grand chanter of the 
cathedral of Girgenti, after a prolonged visit to 
the bishop of St. Agatha, wrote the following 
details to Father Blasucci : 

" I have admired Naples, I have been over 
awed by the magnificence of Rome, but the life 
of Monsignor Liguori has made a greater im 
pression on me than either. ... I have seen a 
saintly bishop of the primitive ages ; he is con 
fined to bed by the most painful infirmities, but 
his serene countenance, betokens the tranquillity 
of his soul. The glory of God and the govern 
ment of his diocese, occupy him unceasingly ; I 
have noticed his extreme moderation in sleep 
and food, and such is his poverty that the only 
blanket on his straw bed is his cassock ; his 
pastoral ring would not excite the envy of a 
beggar a false stone is its only ornament ; and 
his pectoral cross is in perfect keeping." 

One of our saint s principles was that whatever 
was wasted or superfluous in a bishop s house 
hold, was so much taken from the poor, he 
practised the strictest economy as regarded him 
self. His table was of unpolished wood, and 
so old, that it could not be sold except as fire 
wood, or valued except as a relic. His inkstand 
was of bone, his snuff-box of wood, for his 
compositions, he used the cheapest paper that 
could be procured, and the envelopes of letters. 
" If we were to act, as he does," exclaimed the 
bishop of Caserta, after making the saint a 
visit, " we should continually breathe forth the 
odor of sanctity." Everything about Monsignor 


Liguori commands respect, veneration, and hom 
age." Besides his books, the only ornaments in 
his room were the crucifix, which he had always 
before him, and a little picture of Our Lady of 
Good Counsel, which was on his table. 

One morning as the bishop was going to 
officiate, his ring could not be found. A gentle 
man who happened to be present was distressed 
at its disappearance : " If it is the loss of the gem 
which makes you uneasy," said his lordship, 
smiling, " never mind ; it is only a bit of glass. 
My uncle s * ring which was given me, was sold 
for the relief of the poor." Once when the mem 
bers of the household were joking about the value 
of his ring, he said pleasantly : " Such as my ring 
is, it has figured at Rome, and every one 
regarded it as a precious article ; 4 but you do 
not know, said I to myself, * that I broke my 
best decanter to adorn it. 

It was culpable in the saint s eyes to send to 
a distance for meat, wine or fish. He would not 
allow this even in his worst illness. " I ought to 
eat the produce of my own diocese," said he, " I 
cannot waste money that belongs to the poor. 
I am their father and their steward, not the des 
troyer of their possessions." 

The spirit of penance and mortification was 
equally conspicuous in our saint ; he unceasingly 
offered himself to God as an expiatory victim for 
the sins of his people. Every day he disciplined 
himself to blood. A Dominican prior who had 
come to his house on account of the examina- 

* Monsignor Cavaliere, the saintly bishop of Troia. 


tions, occupied a room near the bishop s, and as 
he was leaving, the very day they were over, 
being entreated to remain longer, he said, " I 
would return home were it midnight, for I have 
not the heart to listen any longer to the flagella 
tions of this poor old man." 

For several years, the saint ate but once a day, 
and during another period of his life he ate only 
abstinence food. Even this he was accus 
tomed to season with bitter herbs. During the 
whole time he was bishop, he never once com 
plained of any dish being badly cooked, though 
accidents of this nature, were of frequent oc- 
curence in his house. One day at dinner the 
servant served vinegar instead of wine. His 
lordship drank it, but the grand vicar no sooner 
tasted it than he angrily reproached the servant. 
The saint excused him and laughed at the acci 
dent. On another occasion the same thing 
occurred, but he drank it without making a 
remark. Next day however, he said pleasantly 
to the servant : " Do not give me the same wine 
I had yesterday ; I really took it for vinegar." 

The saint liked fresh fruit, and it was very 
beneficial to his health ; for this reason his 
brother used to supply him with the best fruit 
to be procured at Naples. But Alphonsus 
usually sent it to the nuns of the Holy Redeemer ; 
he disposed in a similar manner of rare fish, bon 
bons and other delicacies which his relations 
frequently sent him. 

He would not allow caged birds in his palace. 
"A bishop s house," said he, " is not a place of 


pleasure but of penance." One day when he 
was offered a present of canaries, he refused them 
saying : " No, no, a little later and we should 
weep over them." " These things" he remarked 
to his secretary, are so easily destroyed, and 
when one loses them one feels sorry for weeks 
after." Before he became a bishop, he used 
often play on the harpsichord or piano at the 
community recreation, especially when the 
young students were present, to amuse them and 
teach them to sing his hymns ; and of these in 
struments he was a perfect master ; but while he 
governed St. Agatha he entirely denied himself 
that innocent pleasure. 

Even in his sufferings, the saint rarely sought 
any alleviation beyond that prescribed by 
physicians. One day as he was oppressed with 
a violent headache, Father Caputo suggested 
that he should have recourse to St. Vincent 
Ferrer, " For such a little thing ! " he exclaimed. 
" Ah, let us rather ask him for the salvation of 
souls, and for a good passage to eternity." 

We will conclude this chapter with the testi 
mony of the grand vicar, Rubini : 

" His lordship was as cruel to himself as he 
was kind to others. I should make you shudder 
were I to relate all the particulars of his macera 
tions, his abstinence from food, his daily 
scourgings to blood, of the hair-shirts and 
iron chains which kept his body in continual 
mortification, his watchings in short everything 
that can afflict the flesh was made use of unceas 
ingly by Monsignor Liguori." 


Doubts and fears of the saint as to his resignation of the bishopric. 
Regret of the people. A general mission. Wonderful vigil 
ance of the saint. His resignation accepted. Letter. Grief of 
the clergy. Sentiments of the retiring bishop. Of the citizens 
of Naples. The weight of Mount Taburno removed from the 
saint s shoulders. The Vacant See. Monsignor Rossi. The 
pension. Characteristic disinterestedness. 

WE shall ere long have to follow our saint into 
retreat, for no sooner had he assisted at the death 
bed of Clement XIV, than he resolved to resign his 
bishopric, knowing as he had already prophesied, 
that the successor of Ganganelli would accept 
his resignation. But as usual he was full of doubts 
and fears, and he would be glad if the new Pope 
would, of his own accord, release him. " Show 
me that I do God s will in leaving my diocese," 
he wrote to Father Villani, " that I may leave 
it in peace." Though this Father had not here 
tofore approved of his resigning the bishopric, he 
now gave full consent, and the holy bishops, 
whom he had consulted for the saint, were also 
of opinion that, in consequence of the accumula 
tion of maladies, which rendered him unable to 
make the least movement without assistance, he 
need have no scruples in resigning his office. 
Father Villani doubted whether the resignation 
would be accepted ; " but," wrote Alphonsus, 
" there is no reason to doubt ; the Pope will 


accept it, I am certain that I ought to die in the 
Congregation, and you will even see that I shall 
die as a subject." 

No sooner was it known at Arienzo that the 
saint had sent his resignation to the Pope, than 
the news spread throughout the diocese and 
caused general regret. The superiors of religi 
ous houses wept for the loss of a protector who 
was no less powerful than zealous ; the nuns for 
a Father and a consoler ; while the clergy felt as 
if, in losing him, they lost the very soul of the 
ecclesiastical state. The people bewailed the 
most tender and vigilant of fathers ; all classes 
united in supplicating heaven for the preservation 
of their saintly bishop, consoling themselves with 
the hope that, as Clement XIV had decided that 
he could govern the diocese from his sick bed, 
Pius VI would refuse to accept his resignation. 

Pending the decision of the Holy See, the saint 
redoubled his exertions for the welfare of his 
diocese. To the last moment of his stay, he was 
zealous in rewarding the most virtuous, chastis 
ing the tepid, and expelling the incorrigible. He 
designed that, previous to his leaving, the whole 
diocese should be thoroughly evangelized, and he 
applied to the heads of Congregations for the 
necessary workmen. His zeal was so fully 
seconded by all to whom he appealed, that not a 
hamlet, town, village or estate throughout his 
diocese was left without a mission. From his 
bed or his arm-chair, he arranged the smallest de 
tails of this great work. He bespoke the hospi 
tality of the nobles or princes of each district for 


the zealous missionaries, who had so generously 
responded to his call ; and it was freely accorded. 
Meanwhile, but little of what was done through 
out the diocese escaped him, " You must be 
watchful of N " he wrote to one of his mission 
aries, by his secretary ; " You know where he 
lives, and you must see whether he continues to 

visit the house of N ., to the scandal of the 

neighborhood. I want to be informed about this 
as soon as possible. Come this morning that I 
may consult with you about this matter." 

That the Passion of Jesus Christ might be 
engraven on all hearts, he caused a large picture 
to be painted, in which the more striking scenes 
of it were depicted in the most natural manner, 
and had it carried in procession through the 
church on the last evening of the mission. To 
excite the faithful to compassionate the Sorrows 
of Mary he also caused the statue of Our Lady 
of Dolors to be exposed and carried procession- 
ally. Besides, he indicated to the Fathers in a 
circular letter, all that should be done in order 
to excite the people to compunction. " Let the 
preachers," said he " inculcate what a grievous 
crime it is to conceal a sin in confession through 
shame ; in their sermons let them dwell much on 
the necessity of recommending oneself to God, 
especially when assailed by temptation, let them 
always make mention of love towards Jesus 
Christ crucified, and devotion to the Blessed 
Virgin. And when any habitual vice exists in a 
place, frequent reference must be made to it. ... 
If the people are made to say an Ave Maria it 


should be said before the sermon, not after, for 
fear they may get cold, and complain when they 
return home." 

When Cardinal Castelli presented to the Pope 
our saint s resignation, his Holiness was not in 
the least disposed to receive it, though the 
cardinal represented his great age and incessant 
illness ; for he knew too well the wonders the 
saint was effecting who " ruled his diocese from his 
bed." About this time, two Fathers of the Con 
gregation presented themselves to pay their 
homage to the Holy Father, who at once inquired 
about Monsignor Liguori. Thinking to do some 
thing pleasing to their holy Founder, and eagei 
to have him once more in their midst, they did 
not fail to confirm what the Pope had already 
heard concerning his infirmities, and even exag 
gerated them. " If this be the case," said the 
pontiff, " we must not distress him further." He 
therefore commissioned a cardinal, May 9, 1775, 
to write to the saintly bishop of St. Agatha, as 
follows : 

" His Holiness felt sincere sorrow on learning, 
through the letter forwarded to him by Cardinal 
Castelli, of the sad state of your health, which 
has urged you to tender your resignation. This 
causes the Holy Father to feel great regret know 
ing as he does, how to appreciate your merits and 
your pastoral vigilance ; but being aware of the 
full justice of the motives which impelled you to 
this step, he declines to prolong your mental 
anxieties, and accepts your resignation, which 



must be made according to legal formalities. 
With sentiments of the highest esteem, I heartily 
kiss your hand, and am &c." 

This letter filled the saint with joy, but among 
his poor children lamentations resounded every 
where. " It is a chastisement from God," said 
Archdeacon Rainone announcing it to the chapter, 
" we have not known how to appreciate him." 
There was not a canon or priest in the whole 
diocese who did not go to Arienzo to complain 
with tearful eyes of the step he had taken. The 
gentlemen of the diocese came in a body to 
express their sorrow, and those who had ex 
perienced his severity, were among the first to 
express their grief for the irreparable loss their 
district was about to sustain. Canon Francis 
Petti, whose indignation the saint had aroused 
by causing the arrest and imprisonment of his 
brother, repaired to his bedside weeping, and 
exclaimed : " What are you about, my lord ? may 
God forgive you ! The harm you are doing our 
diocese can never be repaired." 

" Which of us can now fulfil his duty?" cried 
out the disconsolate* clergy. " With Monsignor 
Liguori disorders were remedied by merely tel 
ling him of them, for he could do anything both 
for priests and seculars, with the barons and the 
king. Where shall we now find the purse al 
ways open to relieve suffering or prevent sin?" 
Even the archpriest of Frasso, who had given him 
so much trouble, when told that Alphonsus, 
sinking under the double weight of years and 


infirmities, felt unable to govern the diocese any 
longer, said : " That is not true. Monsignor 
Liguori is capable of governing our diocese by 
his name alone," and he expressed the bitterest 
regret for the approaching departure of the 
saintly prelate. 

" Do you think I am not sad at leaving you ?" 
said the loving saint to his weeping clergy. " In 
truth I am but too sad, for I shall leave my 
children. I go, only because God wills it. The 
state to which I am reduced compelled me to 
inform the Holy Father of my sufferings, but I 
declared to his Holiness that if my diocese would 
suffer the least injury from my departure, I was 
ready to toil on here until my death. If I go 
away in body I leave my heart in the midst of 

The poor felt the loss most keenly of all. 
Indigent and penitent women, distressed families 
who had relied on his assistance, the bashful por, 
even among the nobles, whom he secretly 
relieved, bewailed it as the greatest of earthly 
calamities. The peasants were inconsolable. It 
is not generally known that the holy bishop 
kept a creche in his establishment, but such was 
the case. When these poor people went to 
work they dropped their babes at the palace 
door, knowing that their good Father would 
have them nursed and fed. "Alas," said a poor 
villager to Father Gaudinot, " who will now re 
ceive our poor little ones ? When we used to go 
to the mountain, we left our children at his lord 
ship s palace, and we felt sure that they would 


be fed and cared for ; but now that he is going 
away, to whom can we have recourse?" 

The sick and the prisoners wept with the rest. 
"Alas," said the latter, "who will now comfort 
us, who will send kind friends to console us, 
intercede for us with the magistrate, or plead for 
us with our creditors? Monsignor was a saint, 
every one honored him as such, and he was all- 
powerful." This universal outpouring of filial 
love grieved the affectionate heart of the saint, 
and if it had cost him much to be united with 
this dear spouse, it cost him still more to separ 
ate from her when he had learned to love her. 

At Naples the people entirely sympatized with 
the bereaved flock of St. Agatha. " His 
presence was enough of itself to govern his 
diocese, and make every official in it do his 
duty." said the Marquis of A vena, a member of 
the royal council, and he severely censured 
Monsignor Liguori for having taken this step. 

The saint s resignation being formally accepted, 
some one jestingly remarked to him that he 
appeared to hold his head more erect since he 
heard the news: "Yes," he replied, "and that is 
not surprising, since the weight of Mount 
Taburno* has been taken off my shoulders." 
From the depths of his grateful heart, the ex- 
bishop thanked his holiness for the great favor of 
releasing him from an office, the responsibilities 
of which weighed so heavily on his over-sensitive 
conscience. He then entreated to be permitted 
to preserve the privileges annexed to the epis- 

* Taburno is a mountain which overtops St. Agatha. 


copate, especially the portable altar. The Holy 
Father having granted his request, expressed an 
opinion that he ought to enjoy a pension from 
his church, and Alphonsus, not wishing to be 
burdensome to his dear city of St. Agatha, 
named four hundred ducats as sufficient; the 
Pope was so edified at this moderation that he 
assigned him double that amount, and released 
him from a debt of one hundred and five ducats 
which he owed to the apostolic chamber. The 
College of Doctors at Naples, of which he was so 
bright an ornament, agreed, without a dissentient 
voice, to give him his whole pension, and not 
enforce the ordinary condition, residence at 

The saint was not oblivious of the interests of 
his own institute. He prevailed on his brother, 
Hercules, to settle on the Fathers of the Congre 
gation the apartments which they were 
accustomed to occupy in his palace, as sons of 
the great Founder, Don Alphonsus Liguori. 
Mgr. Rossi, Bishop of Ischia, was nominated to 
the vacant see of St. Agatha. When the saint 
heard of this appointment he exclaimed, with 
unusual earnestness : " My God ! my God ! I 
will at once write to Rome to obtain leave to 
reside here till the arrival of the new bishop. 
My poor church," he continued, with unwonted 
animation, " how long thou wilt have to remain 
a widow ! " This was a prophecy, for the clergy 
of Ischia incited the Neapolitan government, or 
the government incited the clergy to oppose 
the translation of their bishop, and St. Agatha 


remained without a bishop for over four years. 
Alphonsus would have resided there till the ar 
rival of his successor, but, according to present 
discipline, a bishop, whose resignation was ac 
cepted, had to leave his diocese immediately. At 
the request of the saint, Monsignor Rossi visited 
him at Nocera, and learned from his own lips 
the real state of that dear church, in which the 
greatest of its bishops had left his heart, as he 
himself had declared to his loving children. 


The saint s last visitation. Touching scene. The art of arts. 
Anecdote. He visits his religious communities. His present. 
Mother Raphael. An alms. The church. Miracle. The 
saint s departure from St. Agatha. His constant residence 
during his administration. A melancholy ovation. Reception 
in Nola. Miracle. Enthusiastic reception in Nocera. Eased 
of one burden to assume another. Touching letter. New 
persecutions. Discipline relaxed. The saint endeavors to 
restore perfect observance. His labors among the people. 
The carminello. His apartments. 

UNDETERRED by his infirmities, the saint once 
more visited his dear children in person, to 
testify the warmth of the affection they had 
inspired in him, and to leave them his blessing. 
In this last visitation of the parishes, he inculcated 
perseverance in well doing, the avoiding of sin, 
the frequentation of the sacraments, and above 
all, love of Jesus Christ and devotion to Mary. 
He then humbly asked pardon for his numerous 
failings and the scandal he had given, according 
to his own account of his administration, and 
besought them to pray earnestly for his soul, 
especially when they should hear of his death. 
He protested that he had loved them all without 
exception, and indeed of this there could be no 
doubt, since those towards whom he had acted 
with the greatest severity, regarded his chastise 
ments as gentle strokes of a fatherly hand and 


were inconsolable at the prospect of his depar 
ture. Indeed the intense affection manifested for 
Alphonsus, both within his congregation and 
outside of it, would lead us to suppose that the 
few instances recorded of his severity are greatly 
exaggerated. He appears to have been a perfect 
master of that art which the saints themselves 
agree to be the most difficult of all arts, as it 
certainly is the most disagreeable of all duties, 
that of correcting others : that the saint some 
times corrected severely is manifest from his 
own letters, but in scarcely one instance was 
the reproof badly received ; some, indeed, were 
carried away by anger, but it was only for the 
moment. Even those who were not at once 
converted, afterwards acknowledged the justice 
of the admonition, and the saint s zeal invariably 
bore fruit in time. " Now," said he to a wicked 
surgeon whom he had imprisoned, " that I am 
going to leave my diocese, do you leave off 
vice." The poor sinner was so moved by the 
tender entreaties of the saint that he mingled 
his tears with those of his benefactor. He after 
wards made a public confession of his crimes, 
and died in sentiments of sincere repentance, 
blessing the name of Alphonsus di Liguori. 

The saint visited all his religious communities, 
humbling himself wherever he went, and be 
seeching the religious to pardon the, perhaps 
too great, severity with which he had endeavored 
to maintain them in perfect discipline, assuring 
them that it was inspired by the great and 
singular love he bore them, and that he had 


always sought to have them honored as the most 
precious portion of the flock of Christ, and 
conciliated the esteem of the people in their 
regard. He exhorted them once more to per 
fect observance of rules, and advised superiors 
especially to have no human respect where the 
glory of Jesus Christ and the good of souls were 
concerned. " Remember me before the taber 
nacle, and forget not my poor soul when you 
shall hear of my death," were the touching 
words with which he concluded every exhor 
tation made to his beloved children. 

The nuns of the Annunciata having asked him 
for a keepsake, he sent them the little picture of 
Our Lady of Good Counsel which he used to 
keep upon his U,ble. He gracefully added that 
he left them his heart, and begged them to say 
a Hail Holy Queen for him every Saturday 
before that picture, and recite the litany for his 
soul, for three days, when they should hear of 
his death, all which they faithfully accomplished. 

Mother Raphael, not being able to see him, 
wrote him a most affectionate letter, and, among 
other things, said she hoped that he would be 
queath his heart to his daughters of Our Most 
Holy Redeemer at his death. This request did 
not by any means edify the saint : " I have always 
considered Mother Raphael a sensible woman," 
said he, " but now I cease to have a high opinion 
of her." The only memento he sent them besides 
a letter of good advice, was a simple wooden 
cross with the emblems of the passion, which 
had adorned his dining-room, and which he 
21 * 


used to kiss whenever he entered or left the 

To the canons he left the large wooden cross 
that stood on the first landing of the staircase of 
his palace ; to the Capuchins some flowers 
which adorned the altar of the Blessed Sacra 
ment in his chapel, to the seminarists several 
books which belonged to him as bishop, not 
having been procured for him by the Congrega 
tion, and copies of all his own works. His old 
mattress and arm-chair he begged as an alms 
from the chapter of the cathedral, who, while 
granting his request, shed tears of devotion at 
the poverty of their beloved bishop. Everything 
about his room was carried off; already those 
who knew him felt certain he would one day be 
raised on the altars of the Church. The barber 
of the palace not being able to find anything 
better, asked for his crutch. " Take it," said 
the saint, " it may one day be serviceable to 
you." Some years after, it was used by the 
bai ber to affect a miracle on his daughter-in-law, 
when all had despaired of her recovery. 

It was on the 2/th of July, 1775, that Al- 
phonsus bade a last adieu, to his dearly loved 
diocese. Amid the tears and groans of his 
clergy and people, especially the poor, he was 
helped into his carriage. The afflction of his 
cherished children pierced his paternal heart 
like a sword, and his eyes were suffused with 
tears. He had governed the Church of St. 
Agatha for thirteen years and fifteen days, dur 
ing which period he had so scrupulously 


observed the law of residence, that he was 
absent only three times, and on each occasion 
but for a very short period. The first was in 
1764, to assist at a general chapter of the Con 
gregation : the second in 1765, when, by order of 
his physicians, he went to Pagani for the benefit 
of his health after a severe illness ; and the third, 
in 1767, when he repaired to Naples to avert the 
threatened destruction of the Congregation. 

An immense concourse of people impeded the 
progress of the episcopal cortege, eager to re 
ceive the last blessing of the saint. But when 
the object of this melancholy ovation perceived 
that the priests, canons and other gentlemen 
intended to convey him to his destination, he 
tried to dissuade them, yet graciously thanked 
them all, and assured them of his abiding grati 
tude for this last token of their affection. Some, 
unwilling to yield to his entreaties, accompanied 
him to Nocera. On the way he continued his 
devotions, and said the rosary and the canonical 
hours with Father Villani, who sat by him in 
the carriage. 

It was dinner time when they reached Nola. 
The retired prelate was received there as an 
angel from heaven. Owing to the intense emo 
tion he felt at parting with his beloved flock, he 
had not said mass in the morning ; he therefore 
went tc the seminary and offered the holy Sac 
rifice in presence of the faculty and the students, 
who were extremely edified at his extraordinary 
devotion. He made his thanksgiving during 
Father Villani s mass, which followed his own, 


and, at the request of the superior, addressed a 
few simple but burning words of superhuman 
eloquence to the pupils, and gave them his bless 
ing. As he re-entered the carriage he wrought 
a miracle on a nobleman who had become blind, 
by making the sign of the cross on his eyes. 

When they reached Nocera the bishop, Mon- 
signor Sanfelice, who had the greatest esteem 
and veneration for his holy colleague, ordered 
that all the bells should ring out to welcome 
him. The people testified the most lively joy at 
seeing once more the great doctor, whose learn 
ing and sanctity had shed such lustre on their 
little city, but they were grieved to find him in 
so helpless a condition, and wept as they called 
to mind his ancient promise to come to Nocera 
to end his days among them. All the clergy and 
several of the nobles approached to kiss his hand 
and beg his blessing as he descended from the 
carnage. When on the threshold of the con 
vent he paused, and exclaimed, with transport, 
" Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sane to \" On 
reaching the choir he prostrated before the 
Blessed Sacrament, saying: "My God, i thank 
Thee for having released me from so heavy a 
burden. My Jesus, I could bear it no longer." 
The community assembled in choir to receive 
him and sang the Te Deum in thanksgiving to 
God for having restored to them their beloved 

The grand vicar of Nocera visited him that 
evening to pay his respects, being deputed by 
the bishop. In the course of conversation that 


dignitary observed, that the people of St. Agatha 
were very much displeased at his depaiture. 
" And why ? " asked the saint, innocently. " Be 
cause they have lost a pastor who did so much 
good," was the natural reply. " Jesus and 
Mary ! " exclaimed the holy bishop, greatly dis 
turbed, " what does the grand vicar say of me, 
who have done no good at all, none, none, none ! 
If any good has been done, it was God alone 
who did it." Monsignor Sanfelice came him 
self next morning, and courteously conferred 
full powers on him to exercise all authority in 
the diocese. The bishops, nobles, superiors of 
monasteries and people of rank of the neighbor 
ing cities were continually pouring in, so that 
several days elapsed before he could obtain any 

The saint was filled with joy at being once 
more among his beloved sons. " By God s 
grace I am at Nocera," he wrote, " and I feel as 
if I were in paradise," but he soon found that he 
had been eased of one burden only to assume 
another. All had recourse to him for advice 
and consolation, " I had hoped," he wrote " to 
find relief at Nocera, but I have met with a 
thousand cares which deprive me of rest. My 
head is exhausted. I am obliged to keep a wet 
cloth constantly beside me, to prevent giddiness 
or fainting, so great is the number of letters I 
have to write. ... I feel scrupulous if I neglect 
writing the inspirations God sends for He gives 
to superiors knowledge which he does not com 
municate to others, and it is this thought that 


makes me write so often." Serious dangers 
again threatened his beloved Congregation, and 
its adversaries never ceased to beset the royal 
courts, but the saint while using all the precau 
tions prudence suggested, felt a holy confidence, 
or rather certainty, that his great work would 
survive him. " I experience a sweet security," 
he wrote to the Fathers, " because I know for 
certain that Mary will help us to weather this 
storm. " The following paragraph forms the 
conclusion of the circular letter he addressed to 
his sons at this time : 

" I bless you all one by one. Pray about the 
persecution we endure, now more intense than 
ever. I trust in Jesus and Mary, who will not 
abandon us. Pray daily for me that I may have 
a happy death. For my part, I do nothing but 
pray for you, you know well that I love you 
far more than I ever loved my own relations. 
May you be blessed, and blessed also be all the 
labors you perform, both in the houses and on 
the missions." 

Meanwhile the holy Pope Pius VI testified in 
every possible manner the affection he felt for the 
veteran missionary. " One cannot do enough 
for Monsignor Liguori," said his holiness. In 
deed Pius VI had so high an opinion of Alphon- 
sus that he sought occasions of doing him favors, 
and loved to exhibit the esteem and veneration 
which his virtues inspired. 

The perpetual and ever-increasing persecutions 
the Congregation had to endure, disheartened 


some of the weaker brethren, and notably affected 
religious discipline. The fear of being dispersed 
any day by the secular power, made some even 
think of leaving, without waiting to be turned 
out. All this pained the holy Founder intensely. 
He endeavored to remedy all deficiencies by 
laboring to restore perfect regularity and primi 
tive fervor. "Persecutions," said he, "are to 
the work of God what frosts are to plants in 
winter ; far from being hurtful, they make them 
take deeper root, and become more fruitful. It 
is chiefly worms that injure plants. The worms 
we should fear are voluntary faults ; let us root 
out these and God will infallibly protect us. ... 
One violation of rule gives me more pain than a 
hundred persecutions. Let "us kiss the very 
walls of our cells, and the more we are perse 
cuted the more closely let us be united to Jesus 

Every Saturday, however weak or ill he 
might be, he never failed to drag himself to the 
chapel to assist at the chapter of faults, and to 
animate his dear religious to perfection. " What 
are we doing in the Congregation," he cried out 
one day, " unless we become saints ? This is the 
end our dear Lord had in view in calling us from 
the world. Had He not willed our sanctification 
He would have left us in the midst of its dan 
gers." He inculcated zeal for souls as the great 
end of the institute. As he had made a vow to 
preach every Saturday on the glories of Mary, 
he would ascend the pulpit, aided by a lay-brother 
and his servant, and preach as if he were quite 


well; but the people, on seeing his emaciated 
countenance and broken frame, would weep tears 
of compassion. His burning words, spoken from 
the abundance of a heart on fire with divine 
love, excited the faithful to love Jesus in the 
Blessed Sacrament, and Mary, His ever blessed 
Mother. Priests and lay-men, nobles and ple 
beians, crowded his poor room that they might 
profit by his advice. The confessors of the royal 
family, and the ministers of the kingdom, sought 
to be enlightened on their duties by the words 
of wisdom which dropped from his lips ; and 
many ladies of the highest rank learned from 
him to be docile children of the Holy Church, 
without neglecting an iota of the onerous obli 
gations of their state in life. 

A zealous congregation of priests at Nocera 
admired the saint so much, that they wished to 
have him among them as often as possible, to re 
new their fervor, through his touching exhorta 
tions. One day, as he was conversing with them 
on holy purity, he used the following remarkable 
words: "Old as I am, even in coming here, I 
must come with downcast eyes, to prevent 
temptations against this delicate virtue. Some 
people use no control over their eyes, and then 
wonder that they are tempted." He visited the 
nuns of the city from time to time, to gratify 
their pious eagerness to learn from his lips the 
love of Jesus and Mary. His mere presence 
effected in the asylum, called the Carmincllo, 
what several confessors had vainly attempted, 
the reconciliation of two of its members who had 


lived in a state of scandalous enmity. Upon see 
ing him one of them humbled herself, and cast 
herself on her knees before her enemy, and they 
mutually asked pardon and embraced each other 
in charity. The superior of this establishment 
one day begged him to- remember her in his 
prayers, that she might obtain the cure of a can 
cer in her left breast, which the doctors declared 
incurable. He encouraged her to bear it 
patiently : " Even should it reduce you to the 
last extremity," said he, " do not distress your 
self; place yourself in the hands of God, and 
embrace your cross ; you will thereby please 
Jesus Christ, and your sufferings will be more 
easy to bear." Still the saint s heart was touched 
with compassion for the poor invalid, and he 
could not refrain from exercising the gift by 
which he had cured and comforted so many. On 
his return, he sent her a bottle of water with di 
rections to bathe the diseased part, and when she 
had done so, she was entirely cured, to the great 
consolation of herself and her sisters. 

The suite of apartments devoted to the use of 
the retired prelate consisted of two little rooms, 
one of which served as his oratory. There 
might he be found during the greater part of the 
day praying, reading, or composing. The cruci 
fix and a few pious pictures, were its only orna 
ments. The poor were still his friends and 
favorites, and on them was expended the greater 
part of the annuities he enjoyed as bishop arid 


New work. Opinion of Bishop Cervone. Other works. Letters 
from Pius VI. Persecutions. Prophecy. Gratuitous coun 
sels. Tanucci retires from office. De Leon s animosity. His 
ironical prediction fulfilled. "Time is a courteous gentle 
man." Honor done to the missionaries. Letters. Circular. 
Untimely death of two of the saint s pe rsecutors. The 
Baron of Ciorani ceases to afflict God s servants. Alphonsus 
victorious over all his enemies. 

THIS year the saint finished his celebrated book 
on Divine Providence. To this work he added 
a treatise on the love of God and the methods of 
acquiring it, and another, containing advice to a 
soul in desolation. This book eloquently proved 
that neither age nor suffering had abated the 
zeal of the saint who was one day to be known 
as the Most Zealous Doctor. When Monsignore 
Cervone, the royal censor, examined the work, 
he wrote a critique on it for the king, in which 
the following passage occurs : 

" The writings of the most religious Don 
Alphonsus di Liguori, late Bishop of St. Agatha, 
are far above the average of ordinary spiritual 
writings, being as superior to them as he him 
self is to our other writers in personal holiness." 
The saint next undertook to refute an eccen 
tric priest of Calabria, who had endeavored to 
throw discredit on certain approved practices of 
devotion to our dear Lady, " practices which," 
says the devout client of Mary " are most salu- 


tary, and have been dear to me from my earliest 
infancy/ In token of gratitude to Pope Pius, for 
many favors received from his Holiness, he 
dedicated to him his work on Divine Providence, 
which he sent him, together with all his later 
writings, begging him to correct whatever was 
amiss, and bless whatever might be useful to the 
faithful. The Pope was much gratified at hear 
ing once more from the venerable bishop, and 
testified his satisfaction in a brief, of which the 
following is the tenor : 

" We have received with particular pleasure, 
your works, in which shine forth the admirable 
zeal for virtue which your piety inspires, no less 
than your wonderful learning. These are fresh 
motives to cause an increase of our paternal love 
for you, founded on your virtues arid merits. Be 
persuaded that all we have hitherto done in your 
favor is only an earnest of the good will which 
we shall evince towards you on every occasion, 
to the utmost of our power." 

Alphonsus, overwhelmed by so much goodness, 
hastened to offer his most humble thanks to the 
Holy Father, but Pius VI, who would not per 
mit himself to be outdone in courtesy, responded 
by a new brief, dated November 16, 1776, from 
which we make the following extract : 

" You could not have bestowed upon us any 
thing more acceptable than your late works, for 
which we are as grateful as if you had sent us 
a gift far more valuable in the eyes of the world. 
We have glanced rapidly over them, and will 
read them attentively as soon as we are at leisure. 


To us they are a fresh and conclusive proof of 
your indefatigable zeal in feeding the flock of 
Jesus Christ as far as lies in your power. Though 
you have resigned your bishopric, you have not 
therefore renounced the solicitude and duties of 
a bishop. As to the Congregation of the Most 
Holy Redeemer, which you recommend to the 
protection of the Holy See, be persuaded that 
there is nothing which we would not cheerfully 
do for you and for it, because of the eminent 
piety which animates you and which we delight 
to honor." 

The Dogmatical Dissertations (1776), and the 
Victories of tJie Martyrs (1777), were composed by 
our saint, with several minor works, after his 
resignation of his bishopric. While he continued 
to turn to account every moment of his precious 
time, according to the terms of his vow, the 
enemies of order and religion persecuted his Con 
gregation with a persevering malevolence which 
ended only with their lives. These wretches 
were among the miscreants who had persecuted 
the society of Jesus, and all but compelled its 
temporary suppression ; already their diseased 
imagination saw the Church, the real object of 
their bitter hatred, deprived of the devoted Con 
gregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, and 
gloried in its destruction, which, nevertheless, 
was not to take place. 

" We shall now see," said some, " what this 
Liguon is, and what kind of disciples he has 
mustered together." " The tribe of relaxed 
casuists and their adherents will be extirpated," 


said others. Alphonsus himself acknowledged 
that, humanly speaking, no redress was to be 
hoped for. The chief of the commissioners en 
trusted by Tanucci with the examination of the 
affair had already declared that the Congregation 
was useless. " My God ! " wrote the saint," we 
have been of use for upwards of forty-four years, 
aiding the souls of so many poor shepherds and 
villagers in the mountains of Calabria, in the 
Abruzzi, in La Pouille, and now we have become 
useless and even hurtful ! " The Fathers were 
anxious that he should go to Naples, but he was 
unable to undertake the journey. His health 
was so much impaired at this period that his 
adversaries proclaimed that if their efforts failed 
to destroy the Congregation, the death of its 
Founder would ultimately extinguish it. " They 
say," he wrote, " that when I die the Congrega 
tion will become extinct, but I affirm that this 
Congregation is not my work but the work of 
God, and that He will sustain it after my death 
as he has hitherto done." To some of the 
Fathers he remarked : " Do not be afraid, I shall 
not die just yet. God wills that I shall die a 
subject, and not chief superior." Several years 
previous, the saint made a similar observation, 
and the event showed that he prophesied. 

When people imagined that the society of the 
Redemptorists was about to be dissolved, many 
undertook to give the holy Founder, enlightened 
as he was by the the Eternal Son of Justice, the 
benefit of their flickering lights. " Make each 
house independent," said one ; " open seminaries 


tor the education of youth," quoth another, 
" preach Latin sermons " was the advice volun 
teered by a third. But the saint, who knew well 
that in his regard, the light that was given by 
officious friends was darkness, declined to be 
guided by it, confiding in God, who would in 
fallibly preserve the Congregation so long as 
it remained faithful to its special vocation, as it 
had heretofore done, to the immense benefit of 
souls in every grade of life. 

An old calumny, the enemies again affirming 
that they hoarded money in their houses in the 
Papal States and a hardly less mischievous 
one, which was far from being new that the 
doctrines of Alphonsus contained laxity, error, 
malice, caused Tanucci to withdraw the cause 
from the royal council and refer it to the Junta 
of Abuses. Their adversaries had recourse to 
bribery in order to obtain false testimony against 
them, and according to all human calculations, 
the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer 
was close upon its end. The saint prayed and 
procured prayers ; he wrote to the great and 
powerful ; he interested in behalf of his cause, 
every influential person at court, with whom he 
was, at all acquainted no lawful means, natural 
or supernatural, was left untried, to promote 
the preservation and well-being of the com 
munity. It was considered providential, and an 
answer to the united prayers of so many fervent 
servants of God, that, in the midst of these 
troubles, October, 16, 1776, the prime minister, 
Marquis Tanucci, retired from office, and was 


succeeded by the Marquis of Sambuco, a great 
friend of our saint, and his institute. This event, 
so favorable to the hopes of the persecuted Con 
gregation, did not in the least disconcert the 

The report of the procurator, Leon, was at 
length presented to the king, Febuary 13, 1777. 
In this the hapless members of the Congregation 
were styled rising Jesuits, than which, in the 
eyes of the world, a more injurious and oppro 
brious epithet could not well be devised, even by 
the implacable enmity of Leon, at that particular 
epoch. Numerically small as the Congregation 
then was, its archives show that during the first 
five months of the year 1778, thirty-five missions 
were given, eight retreats were conducted for 
priests, seven for seminaries, and nineteen for 
convents ; besides many triduos and other devo 
tions, by its members. Therefore Alphonsus 
had some reason for saying : " Redeemed souls 
ought to be the advocates of our cause ;" and by 
expatiating on the success, that almost invariably 
crowned their labors, he sought to inspire them 
with ever increasing zeal for the glory of God 
and the salvation of souls. 

The bishops and clergy did not show them 
selves ungrateful for the wonders of grace 
which the missionaries had been instrumental in 
effecting in their respective districts. Numerous 
petitions reached the king, which bore grateful 
testimony to the probity and disinterestedness of 
their lives, their submission to authority, and 
the good which was invariably effected by their 


labors ; and in consequence it was finally decided, 
that the cause, after having been examined by the 
minister, should be sent back to the royal coun 
cil. Alphonsus, overjoyed at this arrangement, 
wrote to Father de Paul : " I can do nothing, 
but thank Jesus and Mary for the many blessings 
they shower on me in these latter days of my 
life. . ; . Matters have now assumed an altered 
appearance. Blessed forever be Jesus and Mary. 

The following curious passage forms a fitting 
conclusion to the infamous document which Leon 
had the audacity to lay before his king : 

" Let not your majesty imagine that you can 
arrest the progress of this new institute without 
using powerful remedies. Other orders have 
arisen amid contradictions ; nor will contradic 
tions suffice to destroy this. They will wait for 
a more propitious time ; and ultimately the con 
troversy of to-day will be numbered among the 
glories of the institute ; and my name, which 
otherwise deserves obscurity, will be famous in 
the Life of Don Alfonso di Liguori, wherein it 
will be related that the devil stirred me up against 
the Congregation, as he always raises up enemies 
against every good work. " 

Verily, out of his own mouth we may judge 
this new Caiphas. His candor is admirable 
when he truly avers that his name deserves to be 
consigned to oblivion ; but who would expect to 
find him playing the role of prophet, and not 
proving a false one ? Undoubtedly, the name of 
the procurator has become immortal only as 


the bitterest among the opponents of the saint, 
"stirred up" to use his own remarkable words, 
" by the devil, to destroy the Congregation of the 
Most Holy Redeemer." 

In defence of his Moral Theology, also attacked 
by Leon, the saint wrote an able pamphlet, in 
which he proved himself, despite his advanced 
age and unceasing infirmities, a master canonist 
and theologian. While he defended his doctrine 
and disciples, he was so courteous and gentle 
manly towards his enemies, that they were con 
strained to acknowledge his moderation, and in 
future they ceased to attack him save through 
his missionaries. 

Though the saint wrote to every influential 
friend he possessed, he did not wish the cause to 
be immediately discussed in the council. " Time," 
said he, " is a very courteous gentleman ; he is 
of wonderful assistance to the persecuted." His 
adversaries also would willingly temporize, but 
they feared that delay would be dangerous to 
their cause. It was, nevertheless, deferred till 
August, 1779, when the Marquis of Marco wrote 
to the saint as follows : 

" 1 stated to the king the representations of 
your lordship touching the accusations so injuri 
ous to the Congregation you direct. His majesty 
has commanded me to reply that, as the Catholic 
king, his august father permitted the mission 
aries, of whom your lordship is the head, to give 
missions, and to reside in the houses of Ciorani, 
Nocera, Caposele and Illiceto ; and prescribed 
the conditions under which this great under- 



taking was to be maintained, his majesty also 
consents to there being a superior in each of 
the above named houses, to watch over internal 
order, and see that the other offices be properly 
distributed ; and as it was the intention of the 
Catholic king * that this salutary work should 
never cease to exist, his majesty also approves 
of young men being received, and taught such 
things as are needful to enable them to supply 
the places of those who may become incapaci 
tated through advanced age or any other cause." 

In proportion to our saint s gratification on 
learning the contents of this letter, was the chagrin 
of Leon : " If the Grand Duke of Tuscany had 
come here in person," said he, " he would not 
have obtained from the court the favors which 
this handful of upstarts have got." 

Nor did the king s favor stop here. The Pope 
having granted leave on Nov. 21, 1777, to have 
a jubilee celebrated in the kingdom of Naples, 
the king selected the Redemptorist Fathers to 
announce it to the people, and, about a year 
later, the Marquis of Sambuco wrote to the 
holy Founder: 

" In consideration of the constant labors of the 
missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer, which 
tend to instruct the people and lead them to true 

* "It was the intention of the Catholic king that this salutary 
work should never cease to exist." Did the king then mean to live 
forever to protect it ? We trust God has rewarded his good inten 
tions ; but, though the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer 
is little more than a century old, it has already seen the end of his 


piety, and of the solicitude with which they dis 
seminate those good principles which are calcu 
lated to form pious Christians and loyal subjects, 
his majesty has determined to make use of youi 
Congregation to publish a jubilee, the sole object 
of which is the salvation of the faithful and the 
good of the state. Therefore the king has com 
manded me to inform your lordship that, in re 
turn for the happy success which will bless your 
labors in this undertaking, he will not fail to 
give you proofs of his royal gratitude." 

Many circumstances rendered this mark of the 
royal confidence invaluable to the Congregation. 
Our saint seconding the zeal of the pious 
sovereign, addressed to his sons, on the 8th of 
November, a short circular in which he sets 
forth the excellence of the missions, and exhorts 
them to further, by every possible means, this 
great work for the glory of God and the good 
of souls, reminding them that what the king 
counseled and commanded was nothing more 
than the accomplishment of the end of their 
institute. Full of gratitude for the blessings 
which Providence continued to bestow his first 
thought was to thank Him for them. He wrote 
to all the houses, directing that every evening 
the following prayers should be recited in com 
mon three times : 4% What have I in heaven, and 
besides Thee what do I desire on earth ? Thou 
art the God of my heart and my portion for 
ever. My Jesus, 1 devote myself entirely to 
Thee, I wish for nothing but Thee," adding 
each time a Pater, Ave, and Gloria Patri. He 


incessantly inculcated that prayer is all-powerful 
with God, and that He is to be perpetually 
thanked for his benefits. 

The honorable distinction conferred by the 
king on the Congregation was a real pain to its 
enemies, especially the procurator. " Strange 
fancy ! " he exclaimed ; " it would seem as if 
scandal is to be made lawful, though it should 
ruin Church and State. " The decree by which 
his majesty sanctioned the mode of government 
established among the missionaries tried his 
patience still more severely ; but had he been 
able to draw aside for a moment the dark veil of 
futurity, he would have seen how little he need be 
concerned about sublunary things. He was pre 
maturely cited before Him who will judge with 
justice, dying as he came out of a bath, without 
having time to receive the last sacraments. His 
companion, the commissioner, quickly followed 
him : this unprincipled official was found dead 
in his bed a little later. One by one the other 
supporters of the Baron of Ciorani disappeared, 
and all in a tragic manner, so that, recognizing 
the hand of God in these unlooked-for occur 
rences, the stubborn noble no longer had the 
heart to persecute God s servants. Thus it was 
that sooner or later, God rendered his servant 
victorious over his enemies, prolonged his life, 
blessed him on earth, and delivered him not to 
their impious wilL 


The saint s zeal for the houses outside the kingdom. He in 
sists upon each religious having a cell to himself. Letter. 
Favors granted by Pius VI. The saint s solicitude for the 
health of his sons. His great love for them. His endeavors 
to promote perfect charity. He wished superiors to show great 
gentleness towards them. His work on Fidelity of Subjects to 
their King. Extract. His zeal for the great. He destroys 
letters received from sovereigns. He stirs up the zeal of his 
literary friends. Correspondence with Abb6 Nonnote. 
Voltaire. Conversion of Metastasio. 

MEANWHILE Alphonsus considering the continual 
dangers and persecutions to which his Congrega 
tion was exposed in the kingdom of the Two 
Sicilies, left nothing undone to consolidate his 
establishments in the States of the Church, regard 
ing them as a secure refuge in the event of a 
temporary suppression in the kingdom. "The 
house of Frosinone, " he wrote to Father de Paul, 
July 7, 1772, " interests me more than that of 
Girgenti, because it is independent of the kingdom. 
I attach the greatest importance to maintaining 
that foundation, for which we are indebted to 
the Pope. ... If it be God s pleasure, I should 
like to live until I can succeed, through my 
pension, in finishing the building, now com 
menced I hope to receive some money 

from St. Agatha soon, and be sure I will send 
you as much as I can." 

The saint was very particular in seeing that 


the subjects had each his own room, and always 
planned his convents so as to make that luxury 
universal, instead of permitting the members of 
his institute to sleep in dormitories. " Without 
a cell of his own," he wrote, " a religious is 
a most miserable creature ; he can have no 
privacy, spiritually or temporally." His opinion 
on this point has had considerable influence, and 
has caused, and will yet cause, many a recluse to 
bless his name. 

The poverty of the houses in the States was 
extreme. The saint s letters at this period show 
that he not only grieved over it, but sent his 
dear sons almost all the money that came into his 
hands, his pension, his allowances, in short all 
that he could claim, beg or borrow. He desired 
to be informed of everything that occurred in 
these distant foundations, and so great was his 
solicitude for their welfare, that it pained him to 
be left in ignorance of the smallest matter that 
involved their interest. " I have never dispensed 
you," he wrote to Father de Paul, " from commu 
nicating to me what you do. Thank God, I am 
not dead yet, nor have I lost my senses. I have 
been a lawyer and a bishop, and have had to 
transact such business frequently. I am still 
superior general, what reason can there be then 
for not informing me ? In charity, tell me what 
is done. I have given a thousand opinions as 
bishop and as advocate, but you do everything 
of your own accord and look on me as quite use 
less Perhaps no house has caused me 

more trouble than Frosinone. God be praised ! 


He knew little how much it was yet to give 
him. The solicitude of the saint extended to 
everything, especially the missions. " I wish" he 
wrote, " that missions, should be conducted with 
all possible prudence and edification, and in an 
apostolic spirit." To increase the good pro 
duced by them, he entreated Pope Pius VI to 
communicate to the Congregation the graces, 
privileges and indulgences lately granted to the 
Passionist Fathers, * a favor which His Holiness 
readily granted. He did not wish his mission 
aries to undertake Lenten sermons, panegyrics, 
or any species of oratory which might attract 
the public attention from the matter to the 
manner, and excite admiration without chang 
ing the heart. He was displeased when Fathers 
accepted engagements of this nature, and wrote 
very decidedly on the subject to Father de Paul. 
He continually urged upon all the rectors of the 
States, the necessity of keeping and enforcing 
the rules. " You know," he wrote," I keep up 
those houses in the Romagna, that the rule may 
be rigorously observed. Manage so that the 
Fathers can make the accustomed retreat, or, if 
they are ill, at least part of it." He was ever 
scrupulously careful of the health of his sons : 

* The Passionist Fathers had already begun to evangelize Nor 
thern Italy when St. Alphonsus founded the Congregation of the 
Most Holy Redeemer in the South. It is worthy of remark that 
our saint s learned and most pious uncle, Monsignor Cavalieri, 
Bishop of Troia, was the great fiiend and protector of St. Paul of 
the Cross and his companions, who used to say that the labors 
and austerities of this holy prelate, even in old age, made them 


" You tell me," he wrote to Father de Paul, 
that the house might very well be inhabited, but 
the doctor thinks it should not be used before 
October, and I will not suffer remorse for caus 
ing the death of any of my brethren." The fol 
lowing letter addressed to the same Father, when 
made superior of Frosinone, shows how ardent 
ly he desired that those who govern in the 
Congregation should rather be Fathers than 
superiors : 

" I entreat your Reverence to be humble to 
wards your companions, and affable towards all, 
especially in mission times, and to treat your 
brethren with all possible consideration, remem 
bering that they are far from their country and 
their family, and therefore have the right to 
claim that charity should be redoubled in their 

He was accustomed to say that, when health 
is lost, a subject can no longer be of use to him 
self or his neighbor, and he was, as his letters 
show, extremely particular on this point. But 
though nothing escaped his affectionate vigi 
lance, he always dwelt most emphatically on the 
importance of preserving perfect union and 
charity. " If we had the riches of Croesus," said 
he, " all would be useless without charity. 
When the bond of love is wanting, everything is 
wanting. He was especially displeased if the 
superiors manifested the slighest want of charity 
with regard to their subjects, or assumed im 
perious airs when treating with them. His own 
exceeding gentleness and considerateness made 


him inexpressibly dear to such of his subjects as 
had personal intercourse with him. 

About this time he composed a most useful 
and opportune work entitled, The Fidelity of Sub 
jects towards God is a sure pledge of their Fidelity 
towards their King. " Monarchs will never have 
peace," said he, "if they do not aim at the pre 
vention of immorality. Where religion does 
not reign, perfidy is rife ; admit sin, and all is in 
danger; but if kings only make their subjects 
faithful towards God, they will be equally faith 
ful towards them." Though the saint s zeal was 
chiefly for the destitute and abandoned, he at all 
periods of his career endeavored to lead to 
sanctity, nobles, magistrates and persons in 
power, hoping, through them, to influence the 
masses, and hence we find him ready to repair to 
court whenever he was summoned thither for 
the spiritual direction of any member of the 
royal family. In this way he was able to effect 
much good for his diocese, and for many who 
sought his mediation, even in temporal matters. 
When he wrote the above work he said to one 
of the fathers, in a transport of holy zeal : " Have 
as many missions as you please, but if I gain one 
sovereign, I shall regard the conquest as worth 
more than a thousand missions ; for the good a 
monarch can effect who is touched by the grace 
of God, could not be effected by a thousand mis 
sions." He transmitted copies of this work 
through Cardinal Castelli to all the foreign am 
bassadors, and directly to the august empress, 
Maria Teresa, to the electoral princes of Cologne 


and Treves, and to the Prince-bishops of the 
German Empire ; also to Prince Charles, gover 
nor of the Netherlands, the kings of Spain and 
Portugal, the grand Duke of Tuscany, the Duke 
of Parma, and all the other Catholic sovereigns. 
These august personages courteously acknow 
ledged his gift by autograph letters expressive 
of admiration for his vast and wonderful erudi 
tion, and reverence for his undoubted sanctity, 
but with his characteristic humility, he destroyed 
every one of these flattering epistles. The book 
was immediately translated into French. " This 
work," says the translator, " is the voice of a 
soul which thirsts only for the glory of religion, 
the spread of morality, and the welfare of rulers 
and their subjects, and which has no ambition 
but to make men virtuous and happy." 

When age and infirmity no longer left our 
Most Zealous Doctor, able to wield his most pro 
lific pen in the cause which was dearer to him 
than life, he encouraged his literary friends in 
Naples and elsewhere, to refute the errors of the 
infidel writers of the day, especially Rousseau 
and Voltaire, over whose libertinism he often 
wept bitterly. The writings of these renegades 
were already handed about in Naples, and even 
formed one of the pastimes of several Neapolitan 
ladies, to the great detriment of religion and 
morality. Happening to see a French work by 
the Abbe Nonnote, in which the errors of these 
murderers of morality were ably combated, he 
was filled with joy, and thanked God for having 
raised up a man who braved the spirit of the 


world and devoted himself courageously to the 
cause of God. In an elegantly- worded letter, he 
congratulated the zealous abbe on his useful 
achievement, and encouraged him to persevere 
in directing his able pen against the impious. 

This letter from the most distinguished prelate 
of the age, afforded inexpressible pleasure to the 
worthy priest, as he testifies in a lengthy epistle 
which contains the following passages : 

" I am accustomed to appreciate nothing ex 
cept in conformity to the spirit of God ; and it 
is an unspeakable pleasure to me to meet with 
men who entertain similar sentiments. Your 
letter informs me, that there is at least one such 
man in the kingdom of Naples one who appre 
ciates only the things of God, and who being in 
himself greater than great dignities could make 
him, forces one to doubt which should be the 
more admired, your genius or your virtue. f . . 
All who have read your excellent and justly 
celebrated work on Moral Theology, congratu 
late me on having received such a flattering letter 
from so eminent a prelate, and I congratulate 
myself for having deserved the approbation of so 
distinguished a man." 

The correspondence between the bishop and 
the abbe did not cease with the occasion that 
called it forth. In a subsequent letter, Nonnotc 
gives a gloomy picture of the state of religion 
in his native country, and informs his illustrious 
friend that, for over twenty years, he has been 
fighting against the errors of the sophists, and far 
from getting help from any one, he was loaded with 


invectives by the impious. " O God," exclaimed 
the saint on reading this sad letter, "is there 
no one else at Paris, which abounds with Christian 
orators, to oppose this monster Voltaire?" 
The abb6 had informed him, that he could not 
publish at Paris a book he had written in defence 
of religion, because of the great fear inspired by 
this sarcastic man. " Miserable beings that we 
are," proceeds the saint; "this is the authority 
of the Church at Paris ! She cannot face an in 
fidel and reprove his audacity ! A book in 
defence of religion, must be transported to 
Geneva for publication ! Poor France, I pity 
thee and the many innocent people who will be 
involved in thy ruin ! " Remarkable words ! 
Or rather prophetic words, when we consider 
that they were uttered only ten years before 
the revolution which deluged the county with 
innocent blood. 

A rumor of the conversion of Voltaire was a 
gleam of consolation to the holy prelate, and he 
wrote to the prodigal to congratulate him on his 
return to grace, and the great good his conver 
sion would effect. To encourage him to a public 
retraction of the ruinous errors he had spent his 
base and wretched life in promulgating, the 
saint addressed him an affectionate and most 
eloquent letter, felicitating him on his supposed 
conversion, and encouraging him to perform the 
little that lay in his power to undo the mischief 
he had already done, and even to attack Jean 
Jacques Rousseau, a name almost as vile as his 
own. But the saint had the affliction to learn 


that it was merely a hypocritical simulation of 
conversion in an impious man, who had once 
corresponded with the great Benedict XIV, that 
now for the hundreth time or more, deceived the 
people. "Alas!" cried the saint, "such con 
versions are not common ; they are effects of the 
divine mercy, but not in its ordinary degrees. 
God grants blessings of this kind only to those 
whose errors have not arisen from a bad inten 
tion, like St. Paul. But in Voltaire all has been 
excessively bad." Already this wretch was 
almost blind, and the saint had encouraged him 
to dictate some refutation of his blasphemies, if 
he could not write. But God did not will his 
cause to be aided by the vile pen of Arouet 
de Voltaire. 

On the thirtieth of May this year (1778) the 
infamous philosopher of Ferney passed from his 
miserable death-bed to eternity, vainly coveting 
the favors conferred on the dying, through the 
ministry of that blessed Mother-Church which 
he had spent his life in reviling. Suicide rid the 
earth of his colleague Rousseau a little later. 
"Thanks be to God," exclaimed our saint, "for 
having in so short a time delivered the Church 
from two of her greatest enemies." 

Our saint had, however, one consolation of 
this nature in the thorough conversion of the 
celebrated Metastasio, for whom he had always 
entertained esteem and admiration. This elegant 
poet and complete master of the Italian language, 
entirely gained the heart of his most zealous 
contemporary by the sorrow he eloquently ex- 


pressed for having written the beautiful but 
dangerous poetry which had gained him a 
European reputation. " May I be permitted to 
manifest," wrote the saint,* (Spiritual Reflections), 
" the great joy that filled my heart on learning 
that the celebrated Peter Metastasio, whose 
poetry received so much praise throughout the 
continent poetry which is all the more dangerous 
because of its exceeding beauty is going to 
protest his profound repentance, and his wish, if 
possible, to withdraw his profane poems from 
the hands of the public at any expense, even that 
of his blood .... I have learned too, that he 
leads a retired life, quite devoted to prayer and 
spiritual exercises. This has given me unspeak 
able consolation, because this public declaration 
and the great and good example he gives, will 
cause many misguided young people to think 
seriously, who have tried to gain applause by 
amorous poems written in imitation of his. It is 
certain that Metastasio gains more praise by this, 
than if he had published a thousand brilliant 
poems . . . Therefore while I detest the vanity 
which made him glory in being the author of 
such compositions, I cannot now cease to praise 
him, and were it possible I would gladly kiss his 
feet, seeing that he has become the censor of his 
own works, and desires to stop their circulation, 
even though it should cost his life, as he 

* It is hardly necessary to observe that, though the saint was at 
the head of the literary men of his country for some two thirds of 
a century, his genius never emitted a spark of literary jealousy. 


Alphonsus abhorred all amorous poetry, how 
ever great the genius it displayed, to such an 
extent as to inspire a natural aversion for its 
authors. On the contrary, his delight in sacred 
poetry was so great, that when any well written 
poems came under his observation, he became 
the most ardent panegyrist of their authors. He 
was particularly pleased with the style of Xavier 
Mafifei who translated the Psalms into elegant 
Italian verse. " If all poets," said he, ." conse 
crated their talents in this way to the giver of all 
good, we should soon see lascivious poetry 
banished from the lips of youth." Maffei, grate 
ful for the praises lavished on him by Alphonsus, 
who, besides being a saint, was universally re 
garded as the most elegant scholar of the day, 
and had early distinguished himself in poetry 
and music, publicly thanked him in the preface 
to his next work, and, at the same time, forwarded 
him a private letter, expressive of his intense 
gratification at having won the approbation of 
the most distinguished savant, and the holiest 
man in Naples. Alphonsus wishing to encourage 
his brother-poet to pursue his literary labors, 
wrote to him in a highly appreciative strain 
Nov. 30, 1774: 

"Your dear letter overwhelmed me with 
delight. When I made my little translation of 
the Psalms, I kept your excellent work con 
stantly before my eyes. You have written for 
the learned and the ignorant, and your charming 
poetry is as instructive as it is enchanting. It 


has been applauded by literary men throughout 
Italy, and, I may say throughout Europe ; while 
my prose is only for the ignorant, and will 
scarcely please a small number of the devout. I 
am pleased at the renown you gain as a lawyer, 
but what joy it will give me if you continue to 
use your great talents and science for the advan 
tage of the Church. But, even in your present 
position, you can do a great deal for religion, 
since in our days every one undertakes to discuss 
theology and the Holy Scripture, and puts forth 
whatever propositions suit his fancy." 


The greatest evils done the Congregation. Efforts of the found 
er. "Edify or go." Family matters. Little Joseph. In 
teresting letter. Death of Count Hercules Liguori. Resig 
nation of the saint. Cure of Don Gavotti. The Lady Teresa 
Liguori. Letter. The lady Antonia Liguori. His anxiety 
about his niece s vocation. His usual advice to noble spinsters. 
Teresa becomes a nun. Her visit to her uncle. Her profes 
sion. The young Count Joseph. 

THE greatest evil done the Congregation by its 
enemies, was the interior derangement and relaxa 
tion that resulted from the perpetual uneasiness 
in which the members were kept, as to whether 
it would not ultimately be entirely destroyed. 

Some took advantage of these troubles to 
insist on having their own way, others even 
pretended to brave the rule and yet wear the 
habit, and a few went to the lengths of supplying 
the adversaries of the institute with weapons 
against it. But these last, God did not suffer 
to remain long in his house. 

After the defeat of the enemies of the Congre 
gation, the holy Founder, who now enjoyed the 
good graces of the sovereign, endeavored to 
remedy the injuries which regular observance 
had sustained. " Edify or go," was the alter 
native he proposed to such as were remiss. " I 
require, " he wrote to the local rectors, " that 
each be compelled to the most exact observance 


of rule. All have embraced it of their own free 
choice, and besides, we do not keep any one by 
force. If any repent of having come amongst us, 
let them settle the question with God ; I am. ready 
to dispense them ; better be few but good ; those 
who are not edifying are always a burden, injuri 
ous to themselves and to others. " 

While the saint was thus endeavoring to re 
establish perfect discipline, he heard of an event 
in his own family that caused him great pain. 
His nephews, Joseph and Alfonsino. were still at 
the College of Nobles, when Count Hercules 
entered into a matrimonial negotiation for the 
elder, then a boy of thirteen. " Ah " exclaimed 
the saint on learning this, " my little Joseph is 
going to lose the grace of God." Father Vil- 
lani having observed that the affair would 
remain a secret, between Don Hercules and the 
father of the intended bride, he remarked : " It 
suffices that it be known to one servant. It is 
by valets and coachmen that the children of the 
nobles are led astray. The domestics will begin 
by saying: good news, little Joseph! Your 
papa has found you a pretty wife/ This is ac 
companied by other light words and unseemly 
gestures ; and thus young hearts are corrupted." 
He wrote a most severe letter to Don Hercules, 
who was prompt enough in excusing this pre 
mature engagement. But he could not satisfy 
the saint, who would allow of no necessity for 
seeking a bride for a boy of thirteen ; and indeed 
Count Hercules had no excuse to allege for his 
indecent haste, save that of his own advanced age. 


That our saint took great interest in the edu 
cation of his nephews may be gathered from the 
following letter, which he wrote them, April 4, 



" I would gladly have you with me in order to 
bestow upon you my last benediction and my 
last advice ; for it is by a miracle of his goodness, 
that God prolongs my life, to give me leisure to 
weep over my sins. I bless him though he does 
not give me the consolation of seeing you ; I do 
not deserve it. From the depths of my heart I 
bless you, and I pray God to send you his bene 
diction from the heights of heaven, to fill your 
young hearts with his fear and his love, and 
thereby to conduct you to a happy eternity, 
where I will await you if he shows me mercy. 
Always fear God as your sovereign master, but 
love him as your tender father. Every day you 
call him by that sweet name of father, when you 
say OUR FATHER in the Lord s prayer. Since 
he is your Father, love him tenderly. He is a 
father, good, sweet, loving, beneficent and merci 
ful these titles should inspire you to love him 
with a cordial, tender, and grateful affection. 
Happy, if from your infancy you love him sin 
cerely ! The yoke of the Lord would then never 
be burdensome to you. You would find it as 
sweet as his holy law is amiable. 

" Learn to correct all that is disorderly in you, 
and to triumph over the enemies of your soul. 
Habit will make virtue easy ; you will find sweet- 


ness in what is very difficult to those who have 
not learned to serve the Lord betimes. 

" Love God, my children ; I call you my 
children because 1 love you as a father, and 
because I wish to inspire a holy love in your 
hearts. O my dear sons ! love the Lord God 
and his son, Jesus Christ ; love him much ; pre 
serve this love jealously in your hearts, fearing 
to lose it. It is a great loss to lose God, his 
grace, and his friendship. Yes, it is a frightful 
calamity to incur his indignation, and expose 
one self to his vengeance. 

" I recommend you to be humble : he who is 
humble avoids danger ; and if temptation comes 
in spite of him, he has recourse to God 
with confidence, and thus preserves divine love. 
The proud easily fall into disgrace with God. 
Without humility you would never do good, 
your virtue would be neither sincere nor solid, 
and you would easily lose it. God resists the 
proud, and shows mercy to the humble ; he looks 
on the humble with an eye of goodness, they 
are his friends. If you reflect well on yourselves, 
you will not be proud, because you can always 
find enough to humble you. Your birth is a gift 
of God to which you have not contributed. You 
are in a college which is directed by professors, 
full of zeal and science, whose nobility of blood 
is enhanced by their rare virtues ; your education 
is conducted by prudent, wise and regular men ; 
this is another benefit from the Lord. 

" You are now, I trust, in the grace of God ; 
this also is an effect of his goodness. Whatever 


is good in you is a gift of God, for which you 
are indebted to his tenderness, and should use 
only for his glory. If you look on your failings, 
and such things are truly and properly yours 
you will undoubtedly find matter enough to keep 
you humble. If you be humble, you will always 
obey, with sentiments of gratitude and love, 
your superiors, who take such pains to instruct 
you. Whether they treat you mildly, or correct 
you, they always give proofs of their affection. 
It is true that their corrections may pain you, 
but, nevertheless, they are effects of the love 
these good religious bear you. Obey them as 
your father, for it is your father who has con 
fided you to their care ; you should then obey, 
love, and respect them as your own father. I 
hope you will show these dispositions to please 
God, your father and myself. 

" I learned with disappointment, that you had 
but little application to study. O my children, 
how you would weep could you see the con 
sequences of this! Ignorance and idleness are 
the two great sources of sin. Study, then, at 
tentively, diligently, and ardently, to know God, 
his benefits, his rewards ; to be able to con 
template and love him much. An ignorant man 
has little knowledge of God, of the duties he im 
poses, and hence, he leads an evil life. Study 
well then, and before I die let me have the 
satisfaction of seeing that my advice has not been 
fruitless. I approach the term of my career, and 
know not if you shall ever see me more ; let my 
last words then, be engraven on your young 


hearts, and produce in you the effects desired. 
Read this long letter, get some one to explain 
whatever you do not understand in it, and im 
print my counsels on your memory that you may 
put them in practice." 

" Have a great love for God, study to know 
and love this amiable master, and to love him 
always more and more preserve in your hearts 
this holy love with humility, obey your superiors 
and your father with docility and affection. 
Observe exactly the rules of the college, in order 
to please God. Be devout to the Blessed Virgin ; 
T leave you under her protection, and I recom 
mend you to her with affectionate tenderness. 
I bless you in Jesus Christ, that you may be 
devoted to him as I desire and hope, in time and 
in eternity." 

Five months after the young scions of the illus 
trious house of Liguori received the above beauti 
ful letter, their aged father, Count Hercules, who 
nad always enjoyed the most robust health, was 
suddenly snatched away by a violent illness. God 
had given our saint a presentiment, of this, some 
three months previous to its occurrence ; 
" Hercules will cause me sorrow this year," said 
he to Father Costanzo ; and when this afflicting 
news arrived, the Father asked : " Is not this the 
sorrow which you said Don Hercules would 
cause you ? " But the saint replied only by his 
silence. On learning that his brother was no 
more, he bowed his hoary head in submission to 
the divine will, and exclaimed : " Blessed be 


God ! " He was much consoled on learning that 
the deceased had given the tutorship of his chil 
dren to the lawyer Peter Gavotti, but subject to 
his own authority, and that of Don Nicholas 
Vespoli, a relation of the family. In reply to a 
letter written by the saint, urging the tutor to 
attend to the religious education, not Jess than 
the temporal interests, of his wards, Gavotti 
wrote : " I am quite at your service, and will 
devote myself as much as possible to the interests 
of these children, but your lordship must beseech 
God to deliver me from headache, which con 
tinually torments me." " Take care of these 
little children," replied Alphonsus " and be sure 
that God will relieve you." Gavotti has attested 
that when he received this letter, he was instantly 
cured and never after suffered from headache. 

Our saint took particular interest in his niece, 
Donna Teresa, who was now about sixteen, and 
still a boarder in the Convent of St. Marcellinus 
at Naples. This young lady was a precious 
pearl in the eyes of her aged uncle, who eagerly 
desired to see her consecrated to God. " Being 
now eighty-five years old," he wrote to her, " I 
feel that I am no longer good for much, yet 
whenever you need anything let me know, and I 
will see that nothing is wanting to you. Mean 
while, recommend me to Jesus Christ. If any 
one advise you to leave the convent and throw 
yourself over a precipice, (marry), listen to no 
such counsel, for you would repent of it the 
second day. Think only of saving your soul ; it 
is the most important of all affairs. Ask advice of 


your confessor, and of some exemplary religious. 
I recommend you to Jesus Christ, that He may 
inspire you to take the true road to heaven. 
Pray to our Lady for me, because the hour of 
my death is near." 

Writing to his cousin, Antonia Liguori, a nun, 
he says : " Salute Teresa, my niece, on my part ; 
tell her not to be duped by the world which 
would persuade her to renounce Jesus Christ. 
This would be a sure way to create for herself 
a miserable life, and a still more miserable death. 
Nowadays, ladies in the world are hardly saved. 
See that she does not neglect prayer and com 
munion, and that she reads pious books. I am 
afraid that some servant of the monastery puts 
the world in her head. I am very grateful to 
you for the care you take of this dear child. I 
know she wishes to become a religious, but I fear 
lest she should change these pious sentiments 
for worldly views." 

As the young lady ceased for a while to open 
her mind to her saintly uncle on this subject, he 
wrote to her guardian : " I will not dissemble 
the pain I feel regarding my niece, Mary Teresa, 
who had once a great desire to enter religion, 
but now no longer speaks of it. I fear some 
marriage may be arranged for her, and this 
would endanger her eternal salvation. Married 
women are saved only with great difficulty, be 
cause the greater portion of them live in sin, in 
consequence of the dangers to which they are 
exposed. I have prayed her confessor to nour 
ish her religious vocation. I ask the same favor 


of you, for, if she marries in this corrupt age, I 
shall look upon her as lost." 

He repeats the same sentiment in a letter 
dated April 23, 1781, to the Lady, Mary Teresa, 
herself : 

" Yes, my dear niece, I shall continue to pray 
for your vocation, since you desire it. A little 
while ago, before your father s death, you 
longed to take Jesus Christ for your spouse; 
you then felt the greatest distaste for the world. 

" I beseech Him to confirm you in these senti 
ments, for if you change them, it will be difficult 
for you to persevere in the grace of God. What 
I say to you, I have already said to all the noble 
young ladies who have come hither to consult 
me, showing them that if they settled in the 
world, it would not be easy for them to save 
their souls. So corrupt is the world of to-day, 
that, so far as I have been able to observe, ladies 
who mingle in society ordinarily lose the grace 
of God. Think not, then, of forsaking Jesus 
Christ for the world ; that would be to lose Him 
and your soul by your own act. All my rela 
tions who died during my lifetime, have, God be 
thanked, died happily ; and I comfort myself 
with the hope of rejoining them in paradise. I 
would have you also with me there." 

God, who grants the desires of His saints, soon 
called the young Teresa to His immediate ser 
vice. When only seventeen, she declared, with 
a spirit worthy of her cousin and namesake, 
Teresina, whose example had quickened the fer- 



vor even of a saint, that she would become a 
nun, and she insisted on following out her voca 
tion immediately. Her guardian refused consent 
on the plea that, her father had declared, that, if 
she manifested this inclination, she must not put 
it in execution until she should have completed 
her twenty-first year. However, as the young 
lady incessantly importuned him, and easily won 
her uncle to her side, by convincing him that her 
attraction to the religious state was not a passing 
fancy but a real vocation, she speedily gained her 

It is not allowable in Italy for a young lady to 
pass from the schoolroom to the novitiate ; every 
boarder desirous of becoming a religious, must 
return to the world for a short time, that her vo 
cation may be tested. But our saint would not 
allow his niece to return to her relations who 
seemed to have grown so worldly since the death 
of Don Hercules, that he feared she would lose 
the love of God, and Her vocation among them. 
He therefore confided her to his penitent, the 
duchess of Bovino, who joyfully welcomed her. 
When she left the monastery (Feb. 16, 1781,) the 
saint wrote to her to recommend, as was his 
wont, divine love, holy modesty and detachment 
from earthly things. " Above all," he continues, 
" avoid going to public festivities. The duchess 
thinks as I do in this matter; consult her, and 
you will see how far she is from wishing to ex 
pose your soul to perils of this nature." The 
young lady never gave her protectress the least 
anxiety on this point; her sole desire was to 


return as soon as possible to the monastery of 
her choice, and the only favor she asked was, to 
be permitted to visit her uncle at Nocera, and 
receive the blessing of a saint. 

The duchess and her daughter accompanied 
Dona Teresa to Nocera, where the party re 
mained three days. The aged saint evinced the 
greatest delight at seeing his dear niece, whose 
birth he had foretold, and whose name he had 
chosen, perhaps in memory of that young and 
lovely Teresina, who had set him the example of 
counting all things as loss for the love of the 
Lord Jesus, and who in a short time had ful 
filled a long space. 

For ten months, Teresa had been inconven 
ienced by a wound in her leg. The saint was 
greatly distressed on hearing it ; and when she 
knelt to ask a parting benediction. " I bless 
you," said he," as your uncle and as a bishop." 
When the wound was unbandaged that evening, 
it was found perfectly healed, as not only the 
duchess, but the surgeon and other members of 
her household testified. His parting gifts to this 
much cherished niece were copies of Preparation 
for Death, and his Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, 
with a relic, in a little box of no value. 

The holy bishop desired that the ceremonies 
attendant on Dona Teresa s entrance into the 
convent and profession, should be conducted 
with as little pomp and magnificence as possible. 
But as her other guardians held different views, 
all was arranged with reference to the birth and 
fortune of the only daughter of the illustrious 


Count Hercules di Liguori. The cream of the 
Neapolitan nobility deemed it an honor to be 
invited to these ceremonies. The ardent novice 
besought her holy uncle to come to her profes 
sion, but he was unable to gratify her : " Your 
last letter," he wrote," has given me such com 
fort that I have not been able to restrain my 
tears. Sad indeed I am, to be unable to comply 
with your wishes. If God had granted me the 
favor of being present at your sacrifice, I should 
certainly have done nothing during the cer 
emony but weep tears of joy ; but as He has been 
pleased to deprive me of this consolation, I shall 
not cease to recommend you to Jesus Christ that 
He rrjay inflame you with His holy love, and that 
you may one day contemplate Him face to face in 
paradise. I beseech you to recommend me often 
to Jesus crucified, that He may give me the grace 
of a happy death, for my sins inspire me with 
great fear regarding my eternal salvation. I 
bless you ; you are always before me in my 
memento. Every day in my communion I ask 
Jesus Christ to give you grace to be entirely His." 
It being customary then as now for the re 
lations and friends of ladies about to make the 
vows, to present them with some token of 
remembrance and congratulation, the saint 
forwarded to his niece a picture of the Blessed 
Virgin " to remind her to thank Our Lady, and 
implore her protection." He had always mani 
fested a warm affection for this niece, and his joy 
was complete when he saw her consecrate her 
self to God in religion. 


As to his nephew Joseph : when this young no 
bleman showed an inclination to enter the married 
state, the saint referred the matter entirely to the 
guardians, desiring them, not to constrain him 
in any way, and to select for him a wife of ex 
emplary life and suitable birth. When the 
choice was fixed, Don Joseph paid his uncle this 
mark of respect, that he went to Nocera to bring 
the news himself. " I bless you, and pray God 
to bless you," said the aged prelate, and then 
ha\ r ing added some good advice, he sent the 
youth away consoled and satisfied. 

It was about this time that Alphonsus revised 
for the last time his Moral Theology, already well 
known in every civilized country. Seven 
editions of this most valuable work were pub 
lished at Naples and Venice during his own 
lifetime. Most of his other works had been 
reproduced in almost every language of Christen 
dom, and had in all cases been productive of 
untold good. Years, infirmities and sorrows 
now began to proclaim more loudly than ever 
that his sun was about to set on earth: and 
Father Villani, fearful that the labors of the holy 
doctor might shorten the precious days during 
which his sons could still gaze on the vener 
able beauty of his emaciated countenance, and 
learn from his beloved lips the secrets of a love 
stronger than death, commanded him to lay 
aside his eloquent pen, and rest from his labors. 
But the " Most Zealous Doctor," who did not 
desire to know any rest on earth, prevailed on 
his director to allow him to- write still, by way 


of relaxation ; a request that could not easily be 
refused. Several of his smaller works belong 
to this epoch. Father Tannoia having one day 
remarked that he had written many beautiful 
things with the intention of honoring the saints, 
but nothing in particular for the souls in purga 
tory, he composed his charming little Novena for 
these holy souls, and to please and gratify his 
dear disciple. 

In short, Alphonsus did not forget any class of 
persons ; all souls were dear to him as ransomed 
by the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ ; and, in 
the decrepitude of old age, he labored for them 
with all the ardor of youth, or rather more 
ardently than ever. He would have wished to 
annihilate sin in a sinful world, and change 
sinners into saints, for the glory of his divine 
Master. He can no longer go on missions as in 
days gone by, but he will not stand idle in his 
Lord s vineyard his prayers, his tears, his suf 
ferings, his writings he is prodigal of all these, 
for a necessity lieth upon him to preach the gospel. 
And reverently be it added : When they saw 
these things, then did the people remember the 
words of the Prophet: The zeal of Thy house 
hath devoured me. 


The severest trials of Alphonsus. The protection afforded the 
Church by the mighty ones of earth. Treachery. The saint 
refuses to be convinced. Letters. Father Villani conceals 
from Alphonsus the treachery of Majone. How the saint 
suffered from his friends. Terrible scene. Profound dejection 
of the holy Founder. Letter. Important document. Letter 
to Majone. Astonishing meekness of the saint. Obstinacy 
of Majone. Unavailing effort* of the saint to restore concord. 
Indignation of his subjects. Alphonsus had foreseen all. 

THE most terrible trials of our saint were yet to 
come. Twice had he foretold that he would die 
a subject, but how this was to be brought about, 
it is probable that the divine mercy, veiled even 
from his prophetic eye. The preceding pages 
will have shown that his life heretofore was but 
a tissue of sufferings, hardly illuminated by the 
feeble rays of consolation which a loving Father 
doled out sparingly to the son he so severely 
chastened. But now the time is at hand when 
his own brethren and sons will disown him ; 
when he will be regarded as a traitor to that 
cherished child of his brain and heart, and the 
power of God working by him, his beloved Con- 
gregation ; yea, when the vicar of Christ himself 
shall condemn the saint of Unity, the doctor of 
Infallibility. Then it is that we shall behold 
Alphonsus di Liguori in all the grandeur of his 
sublime and heroic virtue. Wronged, outraged 
and defamed as saint never was before, no com- 


plaint issues from the lips of calumniated 
innocence. " My sins have deserved more than 
this, Lord, it is good for me that thou hast 
humbled me ! " 

The devil, unable to annihilate the Congrega 
tion by persecutions from without, endeavored 
to stir up treasons within, the surest means of 
destroying a work that had evidently come from 
God. - 

As the government of Naples was ostensibly 
Catholic, it was necessary that each religious 
establishment, should receive, not only the papal 
approbation, but also an official sanction from 
the king and his ministers. History demonstrates 
that this official protection or approbation from 
so called Catholic governments, if it were not in 
all cases such protection as the wolf affords to 
the lamb or the hawk to the dove, usually con 
sisted in raising all possible, and impossible 
obstacles to the very existence of good works 
set on foot by saints and saintly persons, for the 
glory of God and the salvation of souls. And 
at best, dearly has the Church paid for any " pro 
tection " ever given her by the mighty ones of 

On the 24th of August, 1779, the royal ap. 
probation was graciously bestowed on several 
points of the rule. This was regarded as a 
favorable moment to ask a general approbation, 
which would prevent all troubles on this score 
for the future. The grand almoner, Monsignor 
Testa, promised to use his influence for the saint, 
provided some decrees relating to pecuniary 


matters were omitted. This being agreed to, 
Father Majone, one of the consultors, was 
entrusted with the management of the business. 
Majone under the pretext that the king might 
still refuse, and his refusal become known to their 
enemies, proposed, that the consultors should 
each take an oath to preserve secresy in regard 
to all concerning this affair, which was done. 
But under cover of this secresy, Father Majone 
and the consultor, associated with him, Fathei 
Cimino made such arbitrary changes in the rule 
as to give it altogether a new form. 

Notwithstanding the precautions of these un 
faithful men, or rather because of these precau 
tions, suspicions were awakened in the minds of 
the subjects. They protested against all novelties, 
and assured the holy Founder of their wish to have 
the rule remain unaltered. The saint, incapable 
of any species of double dealing himself, could not 
suspect it in others. Moreover, Father Majone 
had on several occasions transacted the business 
of the Congregation at court and elsewhere, to 
the satisfaction of all concerned, and Alphonsus 
had made him understand that the points which 
he was empowered to yield to the king, if neces 
sary, did not properly belong to the rule at all, 
being only questions as to revenue upon which 
probably no rule capable of universal application 
could be made. " My dear Antonio," wrote the 
saint to Father Tannoia, " there is no truth 
in the report that the rules are being changed. 
Be tranquil, and tranquillize others ; the rumors 
which have disturbed you are entirely false," 
23 * 


11 1 have heard," he wrote to Father Corrado, 
11 that some of our subjects fear that new rules 
will be substituted for the old ones. I know not 
how such fears can be entertained, since all must 
know how jealous I have always been of main 
taining the rule." " You cannot," says he, in 
another letter to the same Father, " suspect me 
of duplicity. Now I tell you I will not tolerate 
the least change in the rules. What more can 
I say? If you will not believe me, I must bear 
all in expiation of my sins." He wrote in a 
similar strain to the other Fathers who had ex 
pressed fears on the subject. Nevertheless as 
appeals continued to come, the saint wrote to 
Majone, plainly stating that some innovation in 
regard to poverty and the community life, was 
suspected, and that he would never agree to any 
thing of the kind. Majone hastened to reassure 
him, saying: " As for what you have written to 
me touching community life, to do away with 
this regulation would be to destroy the Congrega 
tion. I hope that Divine Providence will punish 
all those who thus spread discord." With aston 
ishing effrontery, he presented the regulations 
he had made to Alphonsus, assuring him that all 
was in conformity with the rule, save the point 
regarding property, already alluded to. The 
waning sight of the holy old man rendered him 
unable to decipher the small, illegible writing of 
his treacherous disciple, which was, moreover, 
covered with erasures and interlinings ; so he 
handed the document to Father Villani, desiring 
him to examine it carefully. With one glance, 


he saw that the rule had been changed, and tes 
tified his suprise to Father Majone, who simply 
said : " The King does not wish to have vows. 
Besides, it is not for us to make the laws ; we 
must receive them from the almoner, and if some 
slight changes must be made in order to obtain 
the royal approbation, it matters little." 

Father Villani, overawed by the pompous 
bearing of Majone, who was now in favor with the 
higher powers, or fearing to embitter too much 
the few hours of life that still remained to an aged 
paralytic, deaf, nearly blind, and hardly able to 
articulate, said that all was well. The saint im 
mediately entoned the canticle of holy Simeon 
in thanksgiving, and impatiently awaited the 
arrival of the royal approbation. Meanwhile, 
Majone returned to Naples well satisfied with the 
result of his visit to Nocera. The favor of the 
King and the venerated name of Alphonsus ob 
tained all he desired. The grand almoner and 
the rest of the council gave a unanimous vote, 
believing they too had been deceived that 
they were conferring a favor on the Congregation 
which would console the declining years of its 
saintly founder. 

The crosses that galled the shoulders of our 
holy bishop from this period to his happy death, 
came to him chiefly from friends and brethren 
whom he had tenderly loved, and trusted with 
his whole heart. Majone had lived with him at 
St. Agatha as his faithful counsellor. Father de 
Paul had been called to the Congregation by 
an extraordinary vocation, and selected by its 


founder for the great work of establishing it in 
the Papal States. The grand almoner, Monsignor 
Testa, who had formerly been his companion 
and bosom friend, henceforth allied himself with 
the traitor Majone. By the divine permission, 
even the Sovereign Pontiff himself encouraged 
the enemies of the saint Pius VI. who had given 
him such tokens of veneration and holy friend 
ship, persuaded, that his great intellectual powers 
were extinguished in a second childhood, con 
tributed above all the rest to fill up the measure 
of the woes that embittered his days and broke 
his heart Pius VI. who when later on, he 
heard that Alphonsus Liguori was no more, ex 
claimed with tears : " Alas, I have persecuted a 

The mutilated rule having reached Nocera, 
with an official letter from the grand almoner; 
February 27, 1780, Father Villani did not open 
the documents, as the saint was extremely ill. 
But anxiety and consternation spread among the 
Fathers, they surrounded Villani, and insisted on 
seeing the rules about to be forced on them. 
Except Alphonsus, no one in the house slept that 
night. Before daybreak, he was aroused from 
his peaceful slumbers by his outraged children, 
who told him of the alterations made, and 
demanded that justice should be done them. 
The holy old man was stupified with amazement. 
He looked at the new rules : " It is not so ! " he 
exclaimed, " it cannot be ! " Then turning to 
Father Villani, he said reproachfully ; " Don 
Andrew, I did not expect such deception from 


you." Afterwards addressing the community, 
he said : " I deserve to be dragged at a horse s 
tail, for I ought to have read everything myself, 
as I am superior." Then looking at the crucifix, 
he exclaimed : " My Jesus pardon me ! I trusted 
to my confessor, in whom could I have more 
safely confided?" "You know," he said to the 
assembled brethren, " how much it costs me to 
write even a line," sobs and tears almost choked 
his utterance. " I have been deceived," said he, 
sadly. He passed the whole morning in a state 
of absolute dejection. Grief so completely over 
powered him that it was with difficulty he was 
made to taste food, and what he ate was moistened 
with his tears. 

"Ah Lord!" he repeated in doleful accents, 
" punish not the innocent, rather punish the guilty 
one who has destroyed thy work." .His grief 
became so terrible that for several days and 
nights sleep never once visited his eyelids, and 
his life was in danger. Not knowing what to 
do, he was constantly sending now for one sub 
ject, now for another, hoping that some one 
would suggest a means of extricating the com 
munity from this extraordinary difficulty. He 
sent to Illiceto for the Novice- Master, F. Tan- 
noia; then to Naples for Father Corrado. The 
first words he addressed to some missionaries 
who returned from Calabria were: " They have 
changed our rule ! " 

It was reported, but falsely, thank God, that 
Father Cajone, Rector of Benevento, approved of 
these alterations. " I wish, dear Father," wrote 


Alphonsus to him, " that you would seriously 
examine the changes Father Majone has made. 
Our first rule was examined by Mgr. Falcoia, 
who has wrought miracles ; it was afterwards 
submitted to Cardinal Spinelli, and finally to 
Pope Benedict XIV, who gave it his approba 
tion. Now all is changed, and I marvel how any 
one can think this change an improvement. It 
is not the king, it is not his secretary that has 
done this, it is the work of Father Majone. I 
believe his intention is good, but it is impossible 
to recognize the work of God in these alterations. 
As for me, I have but a little time to live, and 
all my desire is to die at the feet of Jesus 

In April 1780, the saint wrote a document of 
considerable length to the houses of the Papal 
States, through Father Ficocelli. He details the 
alterations made, and contrasts the new rule 
with the old, in a clear, lawyer-like manner, which 
proves that as yet his intellectual powers had 
not undergone the slightest deterioration. As 
founder, theologian, and lawyer, the saint never 
wrote anything of its kind to surpass this pro 
duction of his eighty-fifth year. 

Majone, seeing that all the Congregation op 
posed him, put on an appearance of zeal, and 
feigning to pity Alphonsus, represented him to 
the grand almoner as sinking under afflictions in 
the midst of rebellious subjects. Consequently, 
this official dispatched a letter to the Congrega 
tion, which was afterwards discovered to be of 
Majone s composition, enjoining the holy Founder 


and his associates to follow the new regulations 
in every particular, from March i, 1780. The 
style is exceedingly overbearing : " Your lord 
ship," says this precious document, " as Founder 
and Superior-General of the Congregation, must 
inform each member in my name, that this regula 
tion must be immediately enforced, without any 
alteration or retrenchment whatever, for it is now 
the only rule, and is binding in all and each of 
its parts, on all the members of the Congregation, 
present and future, superiors, priests, students 
and lay-brothers, without any room for reply or 
opposition." It is easy to conceive the universal 
indignation which this letter excited. Alphonsus, 
who had to bear the brunt of all the discontent 
aroused on every side, endeavored to calm the 
excitement, and reestablish peace, not wishing 
the death of his treacherous son who had caused 
all there disorders, but rather that he should be 
converted, and live and die among his children. 

" I write to you, my dear Angelo," he says, 
(March 20) " at the feet of Jesus Christ, where I 
beg you to put yourself, in these days in which 
Jesus Christ, sacrifices himself for love of us. 
Let us forget the past. I beseech you to retire 
to our house at Ciorani, but if you prefer any 
other house, I leave you free to choose it. Be 
sure that I will love you as heretofore, and even 
more ; you will find it by experience. You shall 
continue consultor-general, and have a voice 
on all subjects important to the Congregation. 
Place your reputation in my hands ; I shall 
never cease to defend it with your brethren and 


with strangers. ... I bless you and pray Jesus 
Christ to fill you with His holy love, that you 
may be all for Him as He desires." 

On the same day, the saint wrote to Father 
Corrado : " I believe it my duty to use the 
greatest meekness towards Father Angelo, 
because such is the will of Jesus Christ, and it is 
in this manner He inspires me to act. I have 
besought him for the love of Jesus Christ to 
trample the past under foot, and to retire to 
Ciorani or any other house he pleases. Thus I 
shall continue to act until it please God to re 
store peace. In employing this means, which is 
certainly the most agreeable to Our Lord, I 
hope to obtain all. We must be patient, and 
recommend ourselves to Jesus Christ, and to 
Mary the Mother of peace. " 

Far from yielding to such loving entreaties, 
Majone became more inflamed than ever against 
Alphonsus and the Congregation, Seeing that 
his designs were thwarted, he resolved to petition 
the King to compel all Redemptorists to submit 
to his new rule or quit the Congregation. When 
the missionaries heard this, their indignation 
could scarcely be restrained within bounds. 
Alphonsus, to prevent the evil consequences of 
such a step, wrote to Naples revoking the pro- 
curatorship which he had conferred on Majone, 
and bestowing it on Father Corrado. " I have 
learned," he wrote to the new procurator, " that 
our friend, by making an unauthorized use of my 
name, has endeavored to procure an order, in 
virtue of which the subjects must accept his rules 


or leave the Congregation. In short the author 
of this document would make me the murderer 
of my brethren. If Monsignor Testa is not 
convinced of the deceit that has been practised 
on him, we shall obtain nothing ; for he will say 
he has done all I wished, which is not the case 
.... Try to make him comprehend the state 
of our Congregation. We have more than a 
hundred young men who have finished their 
studies, and who would honorably distinguish 
themselves at the Sorbonne or at Louvain ; but 
Don Majone would see them all out of the 
Congregation rather than not attain his ends 
Tell Monsignore Testa that I have not become 
imbecile, as this person reports ; I have still my 
right mind, though he labors to make me lose 
my senses." On the same day, April 10, he 
wrote to the grand almoner himself, represent 
ing, with his customary e oquence, the treachery 
of which he was the victim, and describing the 
sordid spirit that actuated Father Majone, " who, 
to increase his own importance as consultor- 
general, seeks to deprive the rector-major of 
his rights, and has added to, or retrenched from, 
the regulations as his own fancy suggested." 

The subjects, finding that they would be forced 
to obey a rule which they had never promised 
to observe, protested against the consultors, and 
even against the holy Founder himself, for having 
kept the affair secret. So great was their dis 
satisfaction that it weakened considerably the 
veneration which they had hitherto manfested 
towards him. The aged saint not knowing 


where to turn for aid or consolation, spent most 
of his time weeping and praying before his cruci 
fix. He again addressed the grand almoner, 
and besought former friends, now occupying 
eminent positions, to aid him with their influence. 

But Monsignor Testa, heretofore one of the 
warmest friends and most enthusiastic admirers 
of the holy Founder, now refused to annul what 
had been done, and maintained that the changes 
made by Majone in concert with himself were 
excellent, and must be rigidly enforced. This 
prelate seems to have been so completely duped 
by the unfaithful deputy whom Alphonsus had 
commissioned to bring matters to a close at court, 
that he no longer showed even common courtesy 
to so a old friend, a bishop like himself, and pos 
sessed of all possible titles to the consideration, 
or rather veneration, of every dignitary in the 

The saint had foreseen all this in a general 
manner as far back as January 25. 1780. At the 
close of his meditation that day, he exclaimed: 
" I forsee that the devil will do all in his power 
to overthrow us this year." He informed Father 
Caione of the revelation he had on this subject, 
adding: " Your Reverence will therefore have 
the goodness to have the prayers indicated on 
the enclosed paper recited in common from the 
beginning of February till the end of May," 


Alphonsus takes a bold step. He proves that his intellect is as 
sound as ever. Testa begins to relent. A turbulent member. 
A new conspiracy. Stormy scene. The founder invited to 
resign. His re-election. He is calumniated at Rome. Con 
sequences. Action of the Pope. Ingratitude of some of the 
saint s children. F. de Paul coolly accepts the office of gen 
eral. Hypocrisy of Leggio. Resignation of the saint. His 
fearful temptations. His charming frankness. 

ALPHONSUS having now but a choice of evils, 
took the bold and dangerous step of suspending 
the execution of the new regulations until the re 
sult of the deliberation of a general assembly of 
the Fathers, to be immediately convoked, should 
be laid before the King. " If we are permitted 
to recur to the prince," said he, " to ask an aug 
mentation of his favors or to be enlightened to 
understand them better, I do not think any harm 
can be done by suspending these new rules until 
we shall have exposed to him our wants, and the 
re3ult of our deliberations." Several eminent 
and learned personages, lawyers and canonists, 
whom Alphonsus consulted, approved of this 
plan. He immediately informed the grand 
almoner, but as he received no reply, he com 
missioned a Father then in Naples, to let that 
dignitary know all, and added that if this did not 
suffice, he would go himself to Naples, all para 
lyzed as he was, and should he find it impossible 


to obtain an audience, he would write a thous 
and letters to the Prime minister, and send a 
thousand petitions to the King himself. Now at 
least, the early friend of Alphonsus saw that his 
intellect was as clear and strong as ever, and that 
as in his earlier days, no difficulties could deter 
him, no opposition deaden his resolution or 
weaken his efforts, where God s glory was 
concerned. He took the trouble to inform him 
self of the real state of the Congregation, and 
when he learned how egregiously he had been 
deceived, he presently showed some disposition 
to retrace his steps. 

Inexpressibly consoled at this, the saint in 
formed the Fathers of it, in a circular letter in 
which he fixed May i. for the general assembly, 
and urged all to be tranquil in the interim and 
pray for the success of their cause. 

While the saint was laboring to arrange all to 
the satisfaction of his sons in the kingdom of 
Naples, the devil endeavored to stir up dis 
sensions in the houses of the Pontifical States. 
The house of Frosinone contained among its 
members one of those restless, and turbulent 
spirits whom God sometimes permits to disturb 
the peace of communities. The name of this un 
manageable individual was Leggio. A burthen 
to superiors and to his brethren, the Founder 
was constantly obliged to remove him from 
place to place as he did not wish to expel him 
from the Congregation, unless matters became 
so desperate as to admit of no other alternative. 
These changes were very displeasing to Leggio ; 


he nourished a secret ill-feeling- against the saint, 
and, as revolutions in states generally give bad 
men opportunities of displaying their abilities, 
he no sooner heard of the difficulties of the 
Neapolitan houses than he determined to take 
advantage of them to create discord between 
the houses of the States and those of th ft king 
dom. Of course he was actuated by the most 
lively zeal who could doubt it, when he only 
proposed rebellion against the founder, and 
separation from his government ? 

It is quite true that nearly all the Redemptorist 
Fathers, who had ever known Alphonsus, enter 
tained for him the deepest veneration and the 
warmest affection. But when he was denounced 
as an accomplice of Majone, appearances certainly 
not being in his favor since outside the kingdom 
nothing had transpired but that the consultor 
was the trusted friend of the founder and was 
authorised to act in his name it was easy enough 
to persuade the majority, either that God had 
forsaken him in his old age, or that years, sor 
rows, and infirmities had robbed him of the 
brilliant mental powers, which had once been 
sufficient to overcome those who would have 
been incapable of appreciating his higher and 
nobler qualities. It was therefore arranged that 
a general chapter of the subjects in the States 
should be convoked, to entreat the Pope to allow 
them to separate from their brethren in the 
kingdom, and give them power to elect a new 
superior-general, they having already deposed 
Monsignor di Liguori. 


The circular letter of Alphonsus elicited no 
reply. He was therefore obliged, much against 
his will, to order the houses of the states to send 
their deputies, in virtue of obedience. This 
mandate was obeyed, but the deputies were 
accompanied by Leggio, who came firmly bent 
on carrying out the separation he had projected. 

The meeting was opened on the twelfth of 
May, but Alphonsus saw he had no longer docile 
subjects to deal with ; nearly all expressed in 
the strongest language, their indignation against 
Majone and his colleague, but instead of entreat 
ing the unhappy pair by the mildness and benig 
nity of Jesus Christ, some insisted on their 
iiniiiediate expulsion, and others wanted to have 
them deprived of their offices. So great was the 
spirit of subordination displayed at this assembly, 
that the holy Founder sincerely regretted that 
he had ever convoked it. " Some are for Jesus 
Christ," said he, " some for the devil, and I am 
between the contending parties." General dis 
satisfaction was expressed at the lenity with 
which he treated Majone and his colleague, and if 
these indocile spirits were not audacious enough 
to depose the Holy Founder of their Congrega 
tion, they compelled him to resign his office, 
which he willingly did, for he would gladly 
have given his life for the restoration of peace. 

At a new election held May 26, the saint was 
re-elected superior-general, as strong proof of 
the love and reverence with which he was still 
regarded but of the six former consultors only 
Fatl.ersVillaniand Mazzini were re-elected, and 


these in consideration of previous services. In 
stead of Father Villani, Father Corrado was 
nominated vicar-general, but he declined so 
weighty and troublesome a charge. " I beseech 
you to accept the office to which you have been 
nominated," wrote Alphonsus to this father; " I 
conjure you on bended knees not to pain "me by 
refusing." This did not suffice, the saint was 
obliged to use to the utmost the shadow of 
authority that still remained to him, and com 
mand the unwilling subject under pain of sin. 

Powerless to avert impending evils, Alphonsus 
bewailed at the foot of the crucifix the deplora 
ble state of his beloved Congregation. Some 
reproached him for one thing, some for another : 
some completely forgot the respect due to his 
person and character, and even dared to say 
with disdainful bitterness : " You have founded 
the Congregation, and you have destroyed it. 
We know not whether God will forgive you 
this sin." 

The saint suffered all in silence, and far from 
showing the least resentment, redoubled, if possi 
ble his gentleness and kindness towards every 
one, resolved to drink to the very dregs the 
chalice whichhis Father had sent to embitter the 
closing days of his long and weary pilgrimage. 

As will be readily conjectured, Alphonsus 
now found his office of rector-major the merest 
sinecure. The spirit of insubordination had 
spread, and there were few even of the lay- 
brothers that did not undertake to discuss the 
administrative affairs of the Congregation, and 


give opinions or rather decisions with more 
authority of voice and manner than the holy 
Founder had ever been known to assume. Still 
worse, there was no longer harmony between the 
houses in the kingdom and those of the states , 
diversity of opinion produced division of hearts 
some blamed one party, some another, and hardly 
a voice was raised in defence of the common 
Father of all. Leggio repaired to Rome, and 
signalized his zeal before the Holy Father, by 
painting our saint in the colors of a hypocrite. 
The calumnies seem to have been very generally 
admitted, though no one could understand how 
a man, once universally recognized as a saint, 
could deviate in such a lamentable degree from 
the paths of rectitude. As the court of Naples 
was then endeavoring to infringe on the pre 
rogatives of Rome, the king ordered that no 
subject of his should write to the Pope, or hold 
any intercourse whatever with the Roman Court. 
To disobey openly the royal mandate would be 
to destroy the Neapolitan houses ; hence the 
only resource of the Founder was to select subjects 
in whose integrity he could confide, and depute 
them to represent to His Holiness the real state 
of the Congregation. Meanwhile, it might 
easily have been believed at Rome that Monsig- 
nor Liguori, now overwhelmed with years and 
infirmities, was unable to cope with the difficulties 
of the times, and fearful of seeing his dear 
institute suppressed by the king, like that of the 
Jesuits, granted concessions and made alterations 
entirely at variance with the rules he had 


formerly presented to Benedict XIV, for ap 
proval. Be this as it may, it is certain that God 
permitted the perfidious Leggio to work his 
worst upon a saint, whom he should have loved, 
revered and obeyed. 

This unhappy traitor had the audacity to 
present himself before Pius VI, and having 
expatiated on the novelties introduced into the 
rules at Naples, claimed the Pope s protection 
for himself and for the houses in the Pontifical 
States. He had already ingratiated himself 
with the members of the sacred college, which 
explains the readiness with which he obtained 
that a decree should be forwarded to Cardinal 
Banditi, charging him, in the name of the Pope, 
to inform the members of the Congregation re 
siding in his diocese of Benevento, that they 
should strictly observe the rules and constitu 
tions approved for them by Benedict XIV, 
without making the slightest alteration. A 
similar decree was despatched to the bishop of 
Veroli, with reference to the houses of Scifelli 
and Frosinone. 

This news gave great delight to Alphonsus: 
* God be praised," he exclaimed ! " by this order 
from the Pope our brethren in the papal states, 
are deprived of the liberty to alter the rule. 
My Jesus, bless the work, for it is thy own ! " 
He did not perceive that the first effects of an 
order, so desirable in itself, would be disastrous 
to his poor Congregation. As soon as it was 
generally known that the Pope had guaranteed 
the integrity of the rule in his States, several of 



the most promising of his subjects withdrew from 
Naples, and joined their brethren in the papal 
territories, without even consulting the saint, 
though he was still, nominally, at least, Rector 
Major of the Redemptorists. Deserted by the 
flower and hope of the Congregation, he bowed 
his head in resignation to the divine will, which 
had permitted this terrible blow to fall upon his 
devoted head. He besought his great friend, 
Cardinal Banditi, to protect the poor Congrega 
tion, giving him perfect freedom, as to the means 
to be used in rectifying the disorders from which 
it suffered so grievously. " If your Eminence," 
he wrote, " wishes to release me from my office 
of supenor-general, do whatever you judge 
before God to be for the best. I have no desire 
but to see peace restored to my poor children." 

As the wicked are generally bolder to plan, 
and more courageous to execute for the devil, than 
the good are in the service of God, Leggio now 
assumed such airs that no one seemed able to 
resist him. His next exploit was to obtain that 
" separation " which rankled as a thorn in the 
breast of the aged saint during the short space of 
life that remained to him. 

On the fourth of August, an order A as expedited 
in the Pope s name to the bishops of Benevento 
and Veroli, to the effect that the Redemptorist 
houses in their respective dioceses had no further 
connection with those of the kingdom. When 
Alphonsus heard that some arrangements were 
being made regarding these houses, he in\med- 
iately sent for their most ancient fathers to inquire 


concerning them, but they replied that, as he 
was no longer their superior, they were not 
obliged to obey him. These words pierced his 
heart. Though perfectly resigned to suffer what 
ever his good Father might permit to befall him, 
the sorrows he now endured almost cost him his 
life. Endeavoring to conceal what he suffered, 
he encouraged the faithful few who had not yet 
deserted him, and peacefully awaited the stroke of 
death which he thought must now come; but 
his chalice was not full, the most bitter ingredients 
had yet to be dropped in. 

Concealing every circumstance that could 
tend to place the late Rector-Major in a favorable 
light, Leggio now strove to have a president 
elected or nominated for the four houses, and 
petitioned the sacred Congregation to that effect. 

That venerable assembly, with its wonted 
prudence, desired to examine thoroughly the 
real state of affairs, and instructed the inter- 
nuncio at Naples to take secret information, and 
report the result faithfully. Alphonsus received 
an order from the prefect of the sacred Congre 
gation to transmit to Rome all the acts drawn 
up at the last assembly, with an account of what 
had since taken place. 

This order greatly perplexed the saint. As 
unpleasant relations still existed between Naples 
and Rome, he could not readily comply with it. 
Unwilling to disobey the Pope he wrote to the 
cardinal, (August 24,) that he would send two 
fathers to Rome the following November to give 
the desired information. Lest this should not 


suffice he wrote anew, (August 28,) exposing to 
his Eminence the critical circumstances in which 
he was placed, and his po \verlessness to remedy 
such grave disorders in a moment. " My most 
terrible trial," he writes sadly, " comes from my 
own sons, especially of the house of Frosinone 
who wish to divide the Congregation, and estab 
lish a second general. Small is the importance I 
attach to my office as regards myself, for m;y 
death is at hand, but it is hard for me to see the 
ruin of our Congregation." But Leggio was 
beforehand with him. He exaggerated the pre 
tended offences of his spiritual father, represented 
the delay sought for as a piece of chicanery on 
part of an able lawyer, in order to gain time, and 
thereby elude the commands of the Holy S^e, 
and multiplied his petitions urging the injury (he 
absence of a head might occasion. He was srp- 
ported by the house of Frosinone, for the relief 
of which Alphonsus had, a few months before, 
sold his four silver services, which had been ke[ t 
for the use of the distinguished strangers who ? > 
frequently visited him, and he could scarcely b~ 
prevented from disposing of his carriage, and de 
priving himself of the very necessaries his years 
and infirmities required, lest his children there 
suffer want. He had now the bitterness of learn 
ing in detail how his benefits had been requited, 
and might well exclaim in the anguish of his 
heart: The sons of my mother have risen up 
against me ! 

The grave disagreements existing between the 
courts of Rome and Naples favored the private 


ambition of Leggio. The saint fell into disgrace 
with the Pope, whose next step was to declare 
him deposed from his office, adding what was 
still harder to be borne, that the Neapolitan 
houses no longer formed part of the Congregation. 
Father de Paul was nominated superior or 
president of the houses in the Papal States. 

This Father must have known how untenable 
the grounds were, upon which the holy Founder 
was condemned, but he does not appear to have 
uttered a word in his defence, or made the 
smallest endeavor to explain the obscure and 
critical circumstances in which he had been 
placed since the discovery of Majone s treachery. 
De Paul quietly accepted the post of president, 
and was elected rector-major in 1785. When 
the Pope and the king of Naples consented to a 
re-union of the Roman and Neapolitan houses in 
1790, De Paul was deposed, and F. Blasucci 
elected Rector Major of the whole Congregation. 
But the happy days of re-union and restoration, 
our saint did not live to see. 

When Fathers Tannoia and Gallo arrived in 
Rome as deputies of Monsignor Liguori, they 
learned the full extent of the mischief without 
being absolutely certain as to what means or 
combination of means had been employed to 
produce these disastrous results. Leggio pre 
tended that he experienced the most acute sor- 

* The Father who so coolly accepted his master s post in 1785, 
lived, let us hope, to repent, of so easily taking the first place 
while the saintly Founder was alive. He died at Frosinone 
in 1814. 


row at the orders which had lately emanated 
from the Pope. " I have done all I could to 
disabuse His Holiness, but he will not be per 
suaded that Monsignor Liguori was deceived, 
and is innocent of the charges made against him," 
was his hypocritical assurance to them. 

But he soon threw off the mask. The repre 
sentatives of the saint could not procure a hear 
ing ; the sacred Congregation held no session? 
during this season, and the cardinals had retired 
to their country houses. He informed Tannoia 
that the Pope abhorred the very name of 
Alphonsus, and would not permit it to be men 
tioned in his presence. Having now no object 
in dissembling his real sentiments, he one day 
exclaimed with an air of triumph : " Bishop 
Liguori has been disappointed of his canoniza 
tion," thus showing that his wretched malice 
would, if possible, pursue its saintly victim even 
beyond the tomb. 

When they returned to Nocera with their sad 
tidings, they could not bear to make known to 
their beloved Father the whole extent of his 
misery. Next morning as he was preparing for 
mass, at which he was about to communicate, 
Father Villani told him all. The dreadful news 
seemed to freeze the life-current in his veins, but 
he rallied a little, and profoundly bending his 
head, said : " God alone is sufficient for me. His 
grace will not fail me. The Pope wills it thus : 
May God be praised I " He said no more, but 
quietly resumed his preparation, heard mass, and 
received Holy Communion. After his thanks- 


giving, as he went out in the carriage, the devil 
assailed him violently, representing the destruc 
tion of the Congregation as his own work, and 
as a punishment of his sins, that God had aban 
doned him, and that he might now renounce all 
hope of salvation. During this temptation, he 
humbled and abased himself, but his humility 
seemed as if it were false, his hope presumption, 
and the temptation increased in intensity. He 
immediately returned, and had no sooner gained 
the threshold, than he wept bitterly, and ex 
claimed in heart-rending accents : " My brethren, 
aid me, the devil wants to make me despair ; it is 
my sins which have caused God to abandon our 
Congregation ; come to my assistance ; I do not 
wish to offend God." The struggles of the holy 
old man were terrible, but Fathers Villani and 
Mazzini succeeded in reassuring him, saying that 
God could never fail to protect innocence, and 
that he would assuredly not abandon his own 
work. Pale and trembling, he heard all the 
words of consolation those good Fathers spoke, 
and when the temptation passed away, a smile of 
joy lit up the emaciated lineaments of his noble 
countenance. " My Mother, I thank thee," said 
this ever-devoted son of Mary, " thou hast helped 
me just now, always aid me, oh my Mother ! My 
Jesus, my hope, let me never be confounded ! " 

When the fathers assembled about him after 
supper, he said, with his accustomed serenity : 
" The devil has been tempting me to despair 
during the day, but Mary helped me and by 
God s grace I have not made a single act of 


diffidence." Our saint possessed that charming 
frankness of manner which is so endearing in a 
community. He rarely concealed any thing 
from his beloved sons, his pains, his difficulties, 
his temptations, he spoke of all occasionally, 
and even wrote of them in ordinary intercourse 
with those whom, as he often declared, he loved 
better than father, mother, sister, or brother. 
This is how he won entire confidence as a super 
ior, and was able to apply continually his extra 
ordinary skill as director of souls. In proportion 
to the affection with which he cherished his dear 
little Congregation, was the sorrow he now felt at 
the strokes that fell thick and fast upon him from 
those whom he so tenderly loved, that he would 
have given his heart s blood for the least among 


Alphonsus unconsciously justifies himself. The last touches given 
to his sanctity. The saint displays his most noble qualities. 
His submission to the new Rector-Major. His meekness to 
wards Majone. "Servant of the Church till death." The 
Pope s words m absolute. He reads the Life of St. Joseph 
Calasanza. He will not allow his sons to appeal to the king. 
The respect and obedience he compels them to evince towards 
the Pope. 

THE Pope had been made to understand that the 
late Bishop of St. Agatha cared little for ponti 
fical decisions, and was far more anxious to secure 
his own authority than to inculcate among his 
subjects, respect for decrees emanating from 
Rome. Apparently there was proof enough of 
this : what defence could be made for a man who 
had set aside the rules arranged by himself, 
when his mental powers were in full vigor, and 
approved, not merely by eminent theologians and 
high dignitaries, but by the Pope himself, and 
by such a Pope as Benedict XIV ? A superior 
who would compel his subjects to keep rules 
which they never promised God to observe, and 
who would increase and diminish, alter and 
mitigate, according to his humor, without even 
condescending to explain his vagaries to the 
higher powers, or attempt to account for them. 
Could the Pope have seen and heard him, he 
would not have waited till after his death to 


exclaim with that bitterness of heart which we 
all feel, when we find we have wronged virtue 
and innocence, and that it is no longer in our 
power to make amends to the objects of our 
persecutions : " Alas, I have persecuted a saint." 
This great trial was necessary to elevate 
Alphonsus to the highest pinnacle of perfection. 
We have already seen him loved for those endear 
ing qualities which he possessed in so eminent a 
degree, revered for his extraordinary sanctity, 
and universally regarded as a prodigy of eru 
dition. Unlike so many other saints, his great 
qualities and wonderful mental endowments, 
were fully recognized during his life, and bishops, 
cardinals and Popes delighted to honor him. 
Crowned heads had been among his correspon 
dents, and these included the learned of all 
nations ; the kings of Naples, through whose 
reigns his tedious pilgrimage extended, had 
prided themselves on possessing such a subject, 
and had invariably treated him with astonishing 
courtesy. But now a change has come. Kings 
do not know him ; ministers and prelates are 
indifferent to him when they do not actually per 
secute him ; his own sons rise in rebellion against 
him ; some moved by pity have not quite deserted 
him, but respect, veneration, gratitude, have dis 
appeared ; children whom he begot in Christ 
and brought forth in pains and anguish, now 
treat him as if his mind were as feeble as his body, 
or rather as if he were too insignificant to merit 
the slightest notice ; his day is past, he has 
become a burden in his own Congregation 


Worse, he is driven from that Congregation ; 
both he and the few who still surround him are 
no longer styled Redemptorists. 

As our dear Lord was never more deserving of 
our love, than when His enemies had done their 
worst upon him, so no epoch in the life of our 
great doctor is more admirable than this. It is 
now that we find Alphonsus Liguori displaying in 
the most striking manner the heroic virtues hon 
ored on our altars. Naturally enough, when the 
sad events, which formed the climax of his mis 
fortunes, were discussed in his presence, the poor 
subjects who found themselves suddenly cut off 
from an order in which they had sworn to live 
and die, ventured to allude to the injustice done 
to him and to them. But the gentlest of saints 
sternly silenced them saying : " The Pope deems 
it his duty to act thus ; may God be blessed ! the 
will of the Pope is the will of God. " Father de 
Paul appears at last to have been moved with 
compassion at the thought of the sorrow the 
poor old man must feel at being ignominiously 
deposed from his office, seeing his beloved Con 
gregation divided, and more than all, being 
actually expelled from it. He wrote to repre 
sent the regret he experienced at being con 
strained to displease him through the mandate 
of the Pope. " By God s grace, I have never 
lost my judgment," wrote the saint in reply, " 1 
rejoice that your reverence is appointed superior; 
all is right, you must in every thing fulfil the 
will of the Pope." To a religious who testified 
great displeasure at the appointment of F. de 


Paul, inasmuch as it was the expulsion of the 
Founder, he said : " I care little about being 
deprived of my dignity of rector-major; it suf 
fices for me that they have not taken away Jesus 
Christ and my mother, Mary. 

The saint immediately put himself under obe 
dience to the new general, and even resolved to 
go to Benevento and live there as a subject for 
the rest of his days. To dissuade him from exe 
cuting this project, Father Villani told him that 
it was impossible in such a state of health, and 
that, since the rule was observed throughout the 
kingdom, the Congregation still existed therein. 
" Whatever may be the state of things here," said 
he sadly, " the Pope no longer recognizes these 
houses as forming part of the institute." Only 
one reason caused him to desist : he feared that 
such a step would complicate still more the dif 
ficulties already existing between the Pope and 
the king. He quieted his conscience by writing 
to the new president to assure him of his entire 
obedience; nor was he satisfied till Father de 
Paul commanded him to remain at Nocera, assur 
ing him that he should always belong to the Con 
gregation. The saint invariably evinced towards 
this Father the respect and submission of a most 
docile subject, and never resented in the slightest 
degree his conduct during the late troubles. If 
Father de Paul ever coveted the generalship 
which had come to him by such unworthy means, 
he no doubt found thorns enough in the crown of 
superiority, were there no other than the having 
among his subjects such a man as Leggio, and 


owing his position to the same. As rector of 
Frosinone, he had given but little satisfaction to 
the holy Founder; he seems however to have 
been tolerably respectful towards him, on paper 
at least, during the few days that remained to 
him, for they never again met on earth. He 
survived the saint about a quarter of a century. 

The decree of the Pope all but destroyed the 
Neapolitan houses. Several of the Fathers passed 
into the States without even visiting Alphonsus. 
The more docile asked his advice, which he gave 
in two words : Obey the Pope. 

Many were shipwrecked in the tempest, and 
retired to the world. Among others, a student 
whom he tenderly loved joined Majone and his 
companions. This almost broke the affectionate 
heart of Alphonsus. The unworthy object of 
his affection subsequently became canon, and 
gained such an ascendency over his bishop, that 
he disposed at his pleasure of all the offices in 
the diocese. But God did not bless his ways. 
While still young, he was suddenly summoned 
before the supreme tribunal of the Almighty 
Judge, having been found dead in his bed one 

With regard to the unfortunate Majone, all 
that Alphonsus desired was to see him converted. 
He could not bring himself to act harshly to 
wards an old companion, who had been his 
domestic chaplain at St. Agatha, and whom hs 
once loved so tenderly. Seeing the climax of 
the terrible evils he had done the Congregation 
all happened during the first nine month? of the 


year 1780 Majone was ashamed to return among 
his brethren. After having recalled him several 
times, Alphonsus informed him that if he did 
not return before a given date, he would be 
excluded from the society. Shame deterred him 
from obeying, and he so far forgot his dignity of 
priest as to undertake to administer the temporal 
affairs of a baron. In the house of this nobleman 
he died a premature death, detesting his sins, 
and bewailing his unhappy fate. May God, 
whose mercy is above all his works, have re 
ceived his late but sincere repentance. 

The saint, through all these reverses, appeared 
insensible to the dreadful humiliation that had 
come upon himself; his great soul was entirely 
occupied with his beloved -Congregation. To 
see the innovations of Majone done away with, 
and the houses once more under one head, this 
was all he coveted. To attain his end nothing 
was left undone. He wrote a full statement of 
the case to Cardinal Banditi, begging him to 
make all known to the Pope, and caused prayers, 
masses, and novenas, to be offered for success. 
This elegant and statesmanlike document showed 
that the lawyer and the saint had not yet lost the 
qualities which once elicited universal approba 
tion. The Cardinal himself signed the letter, 
but it was God s will that it should not serve 
the holy Founder s cause. 

" Alas," he wrote to Father de Paul, " if the 
Pope knew all, he would not blame me. In due 
time I will make everything known to him, and 
perhaps recover his good graces : for I have 


never lost the remembrance of the affection he 
once deigned to show me, notwithstanding my 
great unworthiness, and come what may, I will 
die his faithful servant, and the faithful servant 
of the Church ." 

His most grievous trial was the Pope s dis 
pleasure. " What shall we do to satisfy him ? 
he asks the president, " to obtain once more th< 
faculties and privileges necessary to the success 
of the missions?" So extraordinary was his 
reverence for the Vicar of Christ, that he took 
all that proceeded from him as literally as pos 
sible, and would not allow any one to interpret 
his will. " If the Pope," said the Fathers, 
" speak of those who give up the rule, that can 
not apply to us who have always observed it?" 
" It is not for us to judge," said the saint. " Who 
will dare to constitute himself judge between the 
Pope and us ? Let us humbly bow our heads 
in submission. If the Pope has cast us down by 
one rescript, he can raise us up by another ; we 
must under all circumstances obey, without ever 
seeking to put our interpretation on his will." 

" The Pope did not, and could not, have you 
in view," said Monsignor Carafa to Father Tan- 
noia at Rome, when this good Father complained 
to him. When this was related to Alphonsus 
by the poor Fathers, whom it had consoled, he 
replied : " I understand all ; but it is Bishop 
Carafa that speaks, and not the Pope." The 
Pope subsequently confirmed what he had done. 

" It is hoped at Rome," wrote the poor old 
man to Father de Paul, "that the Pope will re- 


establish me Rector-Major ; but how little I care 
about that office ! What grieves me is the pri 
vation of those faculties, without which we can 
be of little assistance to souls." He commis 
sioned him to represent this to the Pope, and 
endeavor to obtain a restoration ; and he urged 
Father Caione to the same effect. " If I were 
not absolutely incapable of undertaking the 
journey," he added, " I should be already on the 
road." Had the saint been able to present him- 
self before the Pope, there is no doubt but he 
would have gained whatever he asked, but 
among those now influential with his Holiness, 
he was unable to procure a faithful ambassador. 

From a letter to Cardinal Banditi on the same 
subject, we learn that the saint was never more 
zealous in promoting the work of the missions. 
" We have not ceased to labor for the good of 
souls," he wrote; "we give a great many mis 
sions. That of Foggia may be counted as four, 
for it will last a month and a half, after which 
missions will be undertaken at Nocera and else 

Monsignor Bergamo, who loved Alphonsus 
as a father, having come to Nocera to console 
him, was so grieved for him, that he journeyed 
to Benevento, to use his influence in his behalf 
with Cardinal Banditi. This eminent man was 
greatly distressed on learning the true state of 
things, but he thought it was not then expedi 
ent to take any steps at Rome to rectify the 
past. What the saint feared most, was that 
charity might suffer in consequence of these un- 


fortunate circumstances ; " I strive to instil into 
all my brethren a perfect spirit of charity," he 
wrote to the president ; " do you the same, my 
dear Father, for God loves those who love 
charity." His only consolation at this time was 
to weep and pray before the Blessed Sacrament, 
and meditate on the Passion of Christ. He read 
and re-read the Life of St. Joseph Calasanctius, 
who, towards the close of his long life, had been 
deposed from his office of superior-general, and 
his Congregation suppressed, and who died in 
disgrace with the Pope. 

Alphonsus respected the very wishes and 
thoughts of the Pope. He would not allow his 
Fathers to claim the royal protection, or even to 
inform the king of what had been done in the 
States, chiefly, if not solely, by Neapolitan sub 
jects ; and when he learned that some subjects, 
growing disheartened and restive under cease 
less persecution, had determined to write to the 
king, fearing that this would lead to some com 
plication dangerous or troublesome to His Holi 
ness, he wrote to the acting superior-general, 
Father Corrado : " I know not how I could ex 
cuse from mortal sin any Father who, in this 
present conjuncture, would have recourse to the 
king." In a word, the respect and obedience he 
showed the Pope and compelled those under his 
charge to show him, edified and affected every 


Incessant efforts of the saint to bring about a reunion. He 
appeals to the king, who grants his request. The protection 
accorded by kings. Letter to Leggio. New Trials. Arro 
gance of Leggio. Scruple. Division The Pope calls Alphon- 
sus a saint. He does him full justice only after death. 

THE efforts of Alphonsus to bring about a reunion, 
through every alternation of hope and fear, were 
incessant. Knowing that if the evils done by 
Majone in Naples could be repaired, the great 
obstacle would be removed, he entreated the 
king to allow the Fathers to make an oath to do 
what they had been forbidden to do by vow, 
following the precedent of St. Joseph Calasanctius 
and his clerics. The king graciously granted 
all that was asked. Alphonsus learned this good 
news from a letter dispatched to him by his old 
and constant friend, the Marquis of Marco : 
" His Majesty, grateful for the zeal and indefati 
gable labors of the missionaries, and their success 
in preaching the jubilee, has deigned to grant all 
the favors you have asked : he permits (i) that 
the missionaries make oaths of a life in common, 
and of poverty ; (2) the said missionaries may 
take the oath of perseverance ; (3) they may ac 
cept some assistance from their friends and bene 
factors during the wheat and olive harvest." 
Readers of this age, in the western countries 


at least, can scarcely imagine a state of things in 
which it was necessary to appeal ostensibly to a 
prince for such permissions. Fancy a religious 
Congregation asking the President of the United 
States for leave to keep its rules ! Here is a 
specimen of the protection the Church was wont 
to receive from the secular power. The king 
was born a Catholic, and condescended to remain 
one, but he must in consequence reduce the 
power of the Catholic bodies in his kingdom to 
the merest shadow. Otherwise a harmless man, 
he must discuss in his cabinet the minutest details 
of conventual establishments, and impose his 
silly notions on religious, with an authority 
which the Pope himself has rarely assumed, im 
itating, according to his little capacity, the 
imperial sacristan of Vienna, his august con 
temporary. The unfortunate kingdom of Naples 
has had too many monarchs of this description. 

As the saint could not get all he required, he 
was glad to take what he could get, and he 
notified all the houses to make fervent thanksgiv 
ing to God for these concessions, at the same 
time inculcating the most rigorous observance of 
rule. So important was this royal decree con 
sidered at the time, that the rector of Illiceto 
wrote to Alphonsus : " We cannot find words to 
express the sentiments of our hearts ; our conso 
lation surpasses the anguish we have endured ; 
in spite of hell, we have been restored to life. 
God has now comforted us, and we conjure him 
to give us perfect peace." This joy passed out 
side the Congregation ; its friends seemed as 


delighted as its members, and the people of 
Illiceto lit bonfires in their boisterous rejoicing. 

All was now ready for a reunion ; the Fathers 
of the kingdom longed to be placed on the same 
footing as their brethren in the States, and the 
Fathers in the States longed to be once more 
under the mild and. affectionate rule of a saint. 
But they were not worthy of this great happi 
ness. Alphonsus humbled himself so far as to 
write to Leggio himself: " I pray you to remem 
ber," said he, " that if you persevere in maintain 
ing this division, you will never experience a 
moment of peace, for peace cannot be associated 
with the spectacle of a disunion of which you 
have been the author, and which you can no 
longer remedy. I beseech you, for the love of 
Jesus Christ, to consider this well at the foot of 
the crucifix ; I embrace you, and beseech God to 
make known to you His holy will." But Leggio 
was far from listening to the prayers of the 
spiritual Father who had begot him in Christ. 
By some unaccountable means, he prepossessed 
almost every one against him : " Monsignore 
Liguori," said he, in a tone of contempt, 
" demands too much. He wants to enact the rCle 
of Pope, or to arrange matters quite indepen 
dently of the Pope. . . . The Pope does not 
receive the law, he gives it. We wish for the 
rule of Benedict XIV, not the reform of Monsig 
nore Liguori." 

Beset on all sides, the Pope confirmed the pre 
vious decisions. Only one voice, that of Cardinal 
Zelada, was in favor of Alphonsus in the Sacred 


College. When he heard of these sad and tire 
some proceedings, he repeated with perfect resig 
nation : " I will what God wills ; the will of 
God can redress all wrongs." Nor did he ever 
despair of regaining the Pope s favor, or cease 
his efforts for a single day to bring about the 
coveted union. Always trying, never succeeding, 
still hoping, such was the record of the few days 
that remained to our Most Zealous Doctor. 
When his last effort failed, his degenerate son, 
Leggio, remarked with disgusting arrogance : 
" He played for his canonization, and has lost it." 
The news of this failure having reached him who 
was unconsciously working, not playing, for his 
canonization, he said : " For six months I have 
not asked anything of God but that his holy will 
might be accomplished. Lord, I will only what 
thou wiliest ! " A few years after, when the 
minute examination of his virtues took place in 
the sacred Congregation of Rites, the calumnies 
of his adversaries redounded to his honor. Then 
did Pius VI issue a solemn decree containing 
these words : " We preserve the remembrance of 
the eminent piety of the servant of God, of his 
reverential submission to the Holy See, as his 
words, his actions, his writings testify." 

Owing to the saint s extreme delicacy of con 
science, he had another source of anxiety. 
Through love of holy poverty, he had engaged 
himself by vow to depend on the local rector 
like any other subject ; but as the rectors of the 
Neapolitan houses were not lawful superiors, 
since the Pope did not recognize them as such. 


to whom was he to recur ? Not daring to address 
the Pope, to whom he had been so grievously 
misrepresented, and who was so prejudiced 
against him, he entreated Father Corrado to 
obtain the Pope s decision for him. It was not 
to the Pope, however, but to the Cardinal 
Penitentiary, that the Father applied. His 
Eminence admired the extreme exactness of the 
saint, and directed that he should submit to the 
decision of his confessor. 

It is somewhat singular that the Pope, even 
while giving decisions against Alphonsus 
and using the utmost severity towards him, 
never doubted his sanctity. When Cardinal 
Banditi and Monsignore Bergamo endeavored 
to exculpate him, the Pope remarked that it is 
not well to change the rule of a Congregation 
without the sanction of the Holy See. These 
good prelates explained that Alphonsus had 
made no change ; the changes fraudulently made 
by Majone were repudiated by him as soon as he 
heard of them ; he had since been making super 
human efforts to rectify the errors of the treacher 
ous consultor, and had, thanks to God, almost suc 
ceeded. They enlarged on what was notorious, 
the sanctity of the holy old man and his devotion 
to the Apostolic See: "I know," returned the 
Pontiff, " that Monsignore Liguori is a saint, and 
that he has been most obedient to Christ s Vicar, 
but he has not done well in this circumstance ; " 
and being asked to bless him, he said : " I bless 
him with all my heart, and I bless all the members 
of his Congregation." 


When he, whose displeasure was most grie\ ous- 
ly felt, entertained so high an opinion of the old 
man, towards whom he showed such severity a 
a severity altogether foreign to the gentle and 
benign nature of Pius VI what can we con 
clude, but that God inspired the Sovereign Pon 
tiff to act in this seemingly unaccountable manner, 
in order that the last fine touches might be added 
to the wonderful sanctity of Alphonsus Liguori. 

Although the Pope seems to have shown a 
little lenity towards him from this period, they 
were never fully reconciled. Pius VI did him 
ample justice, but not till he was already enjoy 
ing, among the just made perfect, the fruits of his 
heroic patience. 


Prosperity of the Congregation. Touching letters. Alphonsus 
utters no reproach. Paroxysms of grief. Heroic confidence 
in God. He is universally regarded as a saint. Petition. 
Audacity of Leggio.- -The missionaries acquitted by the royal 
council after nineteen years litigation. Gratitude of the saint. 
The most diabolical of all works. The Sicilian subjects 
choose a general for themselves. The Neapolitan Fathers elect 
a coadjutor for Alphonsus, with right of succession. Change 
of sentiments. The last drop. Perfect submission. The 
German house. Last days and deeds of Leggio. 

DESPITE the perpetual trials to which they were 
subjected, the Redemptorist houses prospered. 
The Pope this year (1781) established a hospice at 
the Church of St. Julian, near St. Mary Major, 
a foundation at Gubbio, and another at Spello, to 
supply the necessities of his States. The saint 
experienced the greatest joy on learning this, 
and wrote several letters to the Fathers in the 
States, congratulating them on their success, and 
testifying the lively joy he felt at the flourishing 
state of their novitiate. On hearing of the con 
templated foundation at Ravenna, he prophesied 
that it would not take root, nor did it. 

As life was slowly ebbing, the saint s mind 
continually turned towards his brethren in the 
States, and the messages he sent them from time 
to time show, not merely that he fully and freely 
forgave those among them who had wronged him 
50 deeply, but rather that he entertained no 


recollection of any injury done him. Father de 
Paul having in a letter referred the good done 
by the Congregation to Alphonsus as Founder, 
the latter wrote : 

I thank God that he has made use of me to 
give birth to the good now effected by your 
reverence, with the sanction of the Pope." As 
the saint was at times scarcely able to dictate, 
Father Villani informed the president of the 
great consolation he experienced on hearing of 
the progress of the institute in the pontifical 
states. " I thank you, he wrote, for the wel 
come letter by which you have made known to 
us the benedictions heaven showers upon you. 
I can assure you it has been a source of great 
consolation to us. Monsignore our Father is 
particularly delighted at the news ; he blesses 
God for it, and speaks of it frequently. I may 
add, that he has desired me to write to you to 
this effect." 

" Monsignore,ourFatner," wrote Brother Fran 
cis Anthony to the same, " has twice charged me 
to tell you that he embraces you tenderly, and 
that he desires you would pray, and make your 
community pray, for him. He will never more be 
well, and he wants me to tell you not to forget 
that he and you were once companions. I use 
the very words he desired me to employ." 

Father de Paul seems to have shown all the 
kindness he now could show to the aged saint: 
" We do not fail," he wrote, " to remember you 
in all our common prayers, and you may rest 
assured that, when the Lord shall call you to 



himself, a 11 the masses prescribed by the constitu 
tion shal oe celebrated for you by the Fathers 
in the states." 

The saint was so delighted with the promises 
contained in this letter, that with the touching 
gratitude which had always characterized his 
great heart, he would thank Father de Paul the 
very day he received it, June 21, 1782. His 
letter, like all he ever wrote to his brethren, 
overflows with the warmest sentiments of divine 
love and tender affection for his cherished chil 
dren, but it is remarkable that he does not 
terminate it by giving his benediction to his cor 
respondent, which, as a bishop he rnigit have 
done under any circumstances : " I pray Jesus 
Christ," he says, " to bless you and your houses 
and those who dwell in them." As he recog 
nized the president for his superior, he simply 
subscribed himself, " Your affectionate and much 
Most Holy Redeemer." 

His heart was filled with sorrow because his 
.louses were deprived of the privileges and 
other favors formerly allowed by the Holy See, 
and during the crisis of a fever, brought on by 
mental sufferings, he would at intervals exclaim : 
" What ! are we not of the Congregation of the 
Most Holy Redeemer? Do we not acknowl 
edge the rule of Benedict XIV? If we observe 
that rule, why are we not of the Congrega 
tion? .... Perhaps they doubt whether we do 
iceep our rules, and this is why we are rejected ? 
But God wills it, let us have patience." On be- 


ing told that his sons were real Redemptorists, 
he would instantly become calm. It was ob 
served that during the deliriums that occasion 
ally supervened in the fevers his domestic cal 
amities had brought on, he never uttered a word 
of dissatisfaction against the Pope, or showed in 
any way that he felt the slightest resentment 
against those who had injured him so deeply. 

Some fathers who had just returned from a 
mission having gone to his room to beg his bless 
ing, Alphonsus, as the same idea always filled his 
mind, said : " I cannot understand how it is that 
we do not belong to the Congregation of the 
Most Holy Redeemer, since the rule of Benedict 
XIV has always been observed by us, and is ob 
served still." " Without doubt we do belong to 
it," said Father de Meo, " since the Pope and the 
king designate your Lordship as founder of the 
Congregation." " I wish not to be even named 
in this world," he returned, " but I desire it to be 
known that the rule observed by us is the very 
one we received from the Pope, and from which 
we have never departed." " True," said the 
father, " and it must always be acknowledged 
that the Congregation exists here, since the rule 
given by Benedict XIV to Don Alphonsus Li- 
guori is kept here." " What does my name 
signify?" interrupted the saint. "All I care for 
is, that it be known that we are subject to the 
Pope. Let us bless God for all he has done." 

During the darkest hours, the holy Founder 
knew and felt that the work of his life was to en 
dure: " Never lose confidence," he would say to 


his fainthearted sons, " Lazarus lay four days in 
the tomb before he was resuscitated. Only let 
us be what we ought to be in the eyes of God ; 
he is all powerful, let us pray, and resign our 
selves to his will." This remarkable confidence, 
or rather profound conviction, struck his friends 
as extraordinary, and ere long these sentiments 
were so extensively shared by the Fathers that 
all regarded the subsequent restoration of the 
privileges of the institute in Naples, and still 
later, the reunion of the Roman, Sicilian and 
Neapolitan houses, merely as the fulfilment ol 
the oft-reiterated prophecies of a saint whose 
confidence in God no amount of misfortune, per 
secution, or trial, could shake or diminish. 

It afforded no small consolation to the strug 
gling houses of the Institute in the kingdom, that 
from first t6 last the most eminent bishops and 
cardinals sustained and defended them. These 
dignitaries wrote and re-wrote in favor of mis 
sionaries, whom they regarded as their most 
potent auxiliaries, and used all possible influence 
to obtain an adjustment of their difficulties. 
Their letters, quoted at full length in the original 
memoirs of the holy Founder, show the high 
esteem in which the missionaries were held, and 
that Alphonsus was universally regarded as a 

The united petitions of cardinals, bishops, 
canons, princes, and congregations, could not fail 
to make some impression on the Pope, and Al 
phonsus was not slow in turning the favorable 
change to advantage. Careless he was about his 


own reputation, but the loss of the privileges 
formerly enjoyed by the Fathers, cut him to the 
heart, because of the damage resulting to souls. 
Strong in his innocence, and confiding in the 
clemency of the Holy Father, he addressed to 
him the following petition. 

" MOST HOLY FATHER! The bishop, Alphonsus 
Mary di Liguori, prostrates himself at the feet of 
your Holiness, humbly entreats you to grant to 
his missionaries all the graces, faculties, and 
privileges conceded by the Holy See to the 
venerable Congregation of Redemptorists in the 
Pontifical States." 

This petition was forwarded in March 1783, 
and on the 4th of April following, the Pope 
granted to all members of the Congregation, 
present and future, the indulgences and other 
spiritual favors which the Redemptorist mission 
aries enjoyed in the States of the Church during 
missions, and all other exercises of their ministry. 
This rescript wounded the heart of the parricide 
Leggio, and knowing that it could not be gain 
said, he forged a document, to which he had 
the audacity to affix the honored name of 
Tannoia, containing several questions, and pray 
ing that the graces conferred should be distinctly 
specified. Being himself on the spot, he hoped 
to reduce the pontifical favors to the faculty of 
blessing rosaries, but this time his intrigues 
failed. He was officially informed that the 
rescript was so clear as not to need any expla 


Another consolation awaited the much-tried 
servant of God. The affair with the baron of 
Ciorani, and other existing difficulties, being 
brought for the last time before the royal council, 
Alphonsus was triumphantly acquitted, and his 
missionaries declared free from all contravention 
of royal decrees. A royal decree, dated April 10, 
1784, approved of the proceedings of the council, 
and the missionaries and the Founder were fully 
exonerated : these affairs had been before the Nea 
politan tribunals for nineteen years. Such auspi 
cious events, following close upon each other, 
filled the heart of the old saint with joy and 
satisfaction. He immediately showed his grati 
tude to his "sweet Jesus," by ordaining that 
special thanksgivings should be offered to God 
and to our dear Lady for the great miracle. A 
miracle undoubtedly it was ; but a miracle 
entirely due to the prayers and penances of the 
saint. The archtraitor Leggio had not yet for 
saken his evil courses. He was still successfully 
engaged in the most diabolical of all works, sow 
ing cockle or discord among his brethren. The 
fruits of his miserable diplomacy soon appeared, 
and the reunion of the dismembered institute be 
came more difficult than ever, when it was known 
that the Sicilian members had broken off from 
their brethren in the kingdom, and chosen a 
Rector-Major for themselves. The few that had 
heretofore been faithful to Alphonsus now trem 
bled for their existence as a religious body ; and 
lest his death, which might occur at any moment, 
should suddenly deprive them of a head, they 


elected Father Villani as his coadjutor and 
future successor. 

Meanwhile, the hearts of his former children 
began insensibly to turn towards that dear father 
who had nurtured them in Christ. His heroic 
patience and charity, tried by every possible 
reverse, moral, material, and physical could not 
long continue powerless to touch them, and they 
yearned for their Father s home, poor and insig 
nificant as it had now become. Many of the 
Fathers of the Papal States, and two in particular 
who had been most obstinate in maintaining the 
division, now humbly begged to return to the 
holy Founder, adding that they would be content 
to take the lowest place if they could only live 
under his fatherly rule once more. This, though 
in itself a great consolation, became the occasion 
of adding the last drop to the bitter chalice 
which the saint had to drain to the dregs ; for 
Father de Paul, seeing that his houses were be 
coming depopulated, asked the Pope if he could 
in conscience permit his subjects to return to 
their first allegiance, and received a negative 
reply. This was, perhaps, the rudest shock the 
saint ever experienced ; but he received it with 
perfect resignation. " What the Pope wishes, I 
wish," said he ; " the will of the Pope is the will of 
God, and the will of God turns all bitterness into 

Alphonsus had not only to bear these reverses 
himself: a far more difficult task was to recon 
cile his sons to them. Continual trials from with 
in and without had wellnigh disheartened them ; 


weary and fainthearted, they poured their com 
plaints and repinings into the ear of their ever- 
indulgent father. And, alas for poor human 
nature, it is by no means improbable that these 
repinings were sometimes accompanied with 
threats of following the majority. But the saint 
never lost patience for a moment : " We will 
pray for our brethren in the states," said he, 
soothingly, " and they will pray for us, and thus 
we shall all, please God, attain sanctity. They 
will do good there, and you will do good here, 
and the will of God shall be accomplished by all." 

The rector of Nocera having animadverted 
severely on the conduct of Majone, the primary 
cause of all these calamities, Alphonsus testified 
displeasure at his language. " That is his affair," 
said he ; " our whole business is to think and to 
say, God wills it." Nor would he permit a word 
against those men, now so sadly changed, who 
had once gloried in the title of his sons, or in 
deed against his worst enemies. It was in these 
adverse circumstances that all the grandeur of 
our saint s character became fully apparent. 
The extraordinary nobility of soul which he dis 
played seemed rather to belong to the state of 
the just made perfect, than to one who, however 
great his sanctity, was still encumbered with a 
perishable body. 

About this time the fame of Alphonsus attracted 
from Austria the two first German subjects, 
Clement Hofbauer and Francis Hiible. They 
were admitted to the novitiate in Rome, and 
were so sanguine about the introduction of the 


Congregation into Vienna, that they would see 
no obstacles in the way. The Fathers laughed 
at the projected German foundation, but Al- 
phonsus prophesied that the hopes of the fervent 
novices would be realized. " God will not fail 
to spread his glory by their means," said he ; 
" the suppression of the Jesuits has left their 
fatherland almost destitute of evangelical work 
men. Instructions will be more useful there than 
sermons, as the people must live among Luther 
ans and Calvinists. At the beginning, they should 
be made to say the Credo, and then admonished 
to avoid sin. These holy men will do good, but 
God does not will that I should mingle in this 
affair. My sweet Jesus! humble me more and 
more, that thou mayest be the more glorified." 

In consequence, partially at least, of the late 
prohibition, the lack of subjects soon began to be 
painfully felt in the kingdom. With a sad heart, 
Father Villani represented to the saint that the 
house of Illiceto was no longer *able to maintain 
the Studentat, the other houses being, through 
extreme poverty, incapable of assisting it. "Alas," 
said the holy Founder, sighing, " our houses are 
now falling into decay ; ah, Lord, thy will be 
done ! May that happen which is most pleasing 
to thee ! " 

To afflict still more this poor old man, whose 
sorrows should have excited the deepest sympa 
thy, the implacable Leggio asked the Holy 
Father to specify the existing houses of the Con 
gregation, which was done in a brief, dated 
December 17, 1784, wherein the Pope declared 


that the only houses of the institute were those 
of Benevento, San Angelo, Scifelli Frosinone, 
Spello, Gubbio, and the hospice of San Julian in 
Rome. The last mentioned now became the 
principal or mother-house of the Congregation. 
The wickedly fertile brain and bad heart of 
Isidore Leggio planned still deeper humiliations 
for the hapless Fathers of the kingdom, but he 
paused, fearing lest his intentions might appear 
through his assumed zeal. His policy at this 
epoch was to render the saint contemptible. 
" Poor old man," said he to a prelate who had 
been inquiring about him, " he is in a pitiable 
state ; his mind is so impaired that he is no longer 
a man. He has lost his senses, and is now in his 
second childhood." The mortal enmity of this 
wretched man reached still greater lengths. 
One day a young relative of the Liguori family 
having delivered a very eloquent speech, a prelate, 
who happened to call at San Julian, naturally 
felicitated the Fathers on the fact that the orator 
was related to their Founder : " When was 
Monsignore Liguori our Founder?" interrupted 
Leggio in a tone of undisguised contempt; 
" Bishop Falcoia is our Founder." The prelate, 
who could scarcely restrain his indignant as 
tonishment at this absurd declaration, retorted 
with spirit : " It should be no small glory for you 
to claim as your Founder a man so eminent by 
his birth, sanctity, and learning, as Monsignore 
Liguori is universally admitted to be." 

But Leggio went further. He tried to intro 
duce into the Congregation of Rites the cause 


of the canonization of Bishop Falcoia, hoping to 
be able to secure to him the title of Founder of 
the Redemptorists. Proud of having contributed 
to establish the houses of Spello and Gubbio, his 
extravagances outstripped all rational bounds. 
" I am the real Founder," he said; " if the Order 
still exists, it is to me it is indebted, for I have 
sustained and still sustain it." The hatred of 
this deluded man followed the servant of God 
beyond the tomb ; he lived to work in vain against 
the canonization of St. Alphonsus. At length 
the eyes of the Pope were opened ; and when the 
impostor endeavored to stir up discord between 
the Cardinals, and disquiet the Pope himself, he 
appeared in his true colors, and was promptly 
forbidden to approach the Vatican. Alphonsus 
had foretold that he would one day receive a 
great chastisement. Feared and despised by all, 
though powerless to inflict the injuries he had 
once dealt out with no sparing hand, he died 
suddenly, on the feast of the Most Holy 
Redeemer, 1801. No word of faith, love, or 
hope, was uttered by this dying renegade no 
confession, no viaticum. When the agonies of 
death seized him, extreme unction was hurriedly 
administered he had previously refused both 
physicians and sacraments, insisting that he re 
quired neither. Seeing that life was really 
drawing to a close, the persecutor of St. Al 
phonsus raised his hand, struck the bed violently, 
and died without uttering a word or making a 
sign which it would be a comfort to his friends, 
if he now had any, to remember. 


The saint s marvellous gift of eloquence. His continued interest in 
the missions. In the Church in general. His gratitude for 
being a child of the Church. Gratitude for the hospitality shown 
the Jesuits by Catherine of Russia and Frederick of Prussia. 
His conviction that the suppression would not continue long. 
He defends them. His hatred of the Jansenists. Arnauld. 
The Blessed Eucharist. " Mercy to sinners." How to deal 
with sinners who come to confession badly disposed. His 
perpetual sermon, Avoid sin. His last visit to the nuns of 
Nocera. Obedience. His occupations. His politeness. 
Accident. He sells his horses. Temptations. 

SOME time before the fatal catastrophe of 1780, 
our saint was reduced to such a state of physical 
weakness that his life seemed but a prolonged 
agony, yet he continued to preach every Satur 
day on the glories and virtues of Mary, and to 
expatiate from time to time on the Passion of 
Jesus, and His real presence in the Blessed Sac 
rament. The faithful lovingly crowded around 
him, to gather, as they said, the last precious 
pearls that fell from his lips. But so much did 
these efforts of charity cost him, that the ever- 
faithful Father Villani, in concert with the doctors, 
forbade him to continue them. His zeal now 
found vent chiefly in prayer. His feeble voice 
no more resounded in the beautiful church of 
Nocera ; his burning eloquence no longer thrilled 
the hearts of the pious crowd, so avaricious of 


gathering " the precious pearls that fell from his 
lips." Judged by its effects, his preaching must 
always have been something marvellous ; he 
himself described it when he said that he liked 
preachers whose words did not pass directly 
from the head to the tongue, but descended first 
into the heart, to be inflamed by its fire before 
rising to the lips. Who thinks of brain, or head, 
or logic, when reading the instructions of St, 
Alphonsus? All fire, all unction, all devotion, 
all sweetness, verily it was out of the abundance 
of his burning heart that his sacred lips, cleansed 
and consecrated, as we may well believe, by an 
angelic spirit, (like to him who touched with a 
fiery coal the lips of the prophet), spoke to the 
hearts of all. 

To the last our wonderful saint manifested the 
greatest interest in the apostolic works of the 
Congregation. When his sons returned from 
missions, he welcomed them joyfully, and listened 
with ineffable delight to the glad tidings they 
brought him, of souls converted to God, or at 
tracted to perfection. These recitals would at 
intervals cast a gloom over the great soul of this 
extraordinary missionary. "Alas ! " he one day 
sighed, as visions of earlier days arose, when his 
harvests were greater than he and his brethren 
could gather in u what do I do ? I am useless, 
and even a burden to the Congregation." 
" Others labor now," said a Father soothingly, 
"and you, as Founder, participate in their 
labors." "Founder?" he repeated,, "I am but 
a miserable wretch. I can do only evil. God 


alone founded the Congregation. I ha\e merely 
been a worthless instrument in His hands." 

His zeal for the general interests of the Church 
rather increased as he journeyed towards heaven. 
When strangers came, he was always inquiring 
about the state of religion, and he felt such keen 
sorrow if he heard the Church was persecuted 
or despised in any place, that Father Villani was 
obliged to tell those who were going to visit 
him, to say nothing of the dark picture Catholic 
Europe then presented, and to be particularly 
silent about the trials the Holy Father had then 
to endure from so many unruly sons and faithless 

He loved to read the authors who defended 
the Catholic faith, and, like his great patroness, 
St. Teresa, he frequently, and with indescribable 
fervor, thanked God that he was a child of the 
Church. " Thanks to God," he would say, " that 
I was born in tlie faith, and in Italy, which is the 
centre of religion. O how wretched we* should 
be if we were deprived of Jesus our hope ! " 
He thanked God for every grace and favor he 
heard of, and rejoiced in the success of bishops 
and priests ; but he testified particular gratitude 
to God whenever he learned that any good 
deed had been done by a sovereign. When he 
was told of the hospitality shown the Jesuits by 
the otherwise infamous Empress Catharine of 
Russia, and by Frederick of Prussia, he loved to 
magnify this princely hospitality, and never 
ceased to thank God that the good seed was 
preserved in these remote and uncongenial 


countries. At the time of their suppression, 
which he lamented almost more than themselves, 
he had said, " If there remains only one Jesuit 
on earth, the order can be restored ; " and he 
had always the fullest confidence that these 
valiant soldiers of Jesus Christ would again 
take their rightful place in the armies of the 
Church. " Let us pray God," he would say, " for 
these holy religious, because their institute ren 
ders great service to souls, and is a powerful 
arm of the Church. People assert that they are 
schismatics ! Verily, they are singular schismat 
ics ! Pope Ganganelli was God s instrument to 
humble them, and Pius VI is God s instrument 
to raise them up. It is God who kills and 
brings to life again. Let us pray to him, and 
he will not fail to bless them." 

He was more uncompromising than ever with 
his old opponents, the Jansenists. " O blood of 
Jesus Christ!" he would exclaim, "how thou 
art trodden under foot by the impious, those 
wolves in sheeps clothing, who pretend to re 
vive among the faithful the spirit of the primitive 
Church ! It was by a kiss of peace that Judas 
betrayed Jesus ; it is by the same kiss of peace 
that these innovators to-day betray Jesus Christ 
and the souls he died to save!" Speaking of 
that unfortunate meeting of Bourg-Fontaine, he 
said with unwonted energy : // was less an as 
sembly of men than of devils. The worst point of 
Jansenism in the saint s eyes was, that it practi 
cally closed up the greatest fountains of grace to 
fallen man penance and the eucharist. 


" Arnauld," said he, " could not find a more 
efficacious means of making the great sacrament 
inaccessible, than to exaggerate the dispositions 
which St. Paul requires for receiving worthily. 
I know that the angels themselves are unworthy 
of this sacrament, but our dear Lord has insti 
tuted it for men, to help their weakness. All 
our good comes to us from this sacrament; 
without it, we should be lost. " He could never 
endure confessors who testified a sort of abomi 
nation for poor sinners. He was always incul 
cating upon his Fathers, and upon all the priests 
who placed themselves under his direction, or 
merely visited him, the tenderest compassion for 
great sinners. " Jesus Christ never showed any 
thing else for them," said he. His instructions 
on this point are invaluable to all who have a care 
of souls. He was, and is still, admitted to be the 
greatest theologian of the day ; his learning was 
extraordinary ; his sanctity won him universal 
veneration ; being almost a centenarian, his 
experience was necessarily vast; nevertheless 
his one cry is, MERCY TO SINNERS! 

" The penitent," says he, " knows his state and 
detests it. He must not be left to his own strength ; 
he must have the grace of the sacraments ; this 
supplies what he cannot attain by his own 
strength. // is a Jansenist doctrine to defer ab 
solution." Again he says : " Many come to 
confession badly disposed ; but when the con 
fessor explains to them the hideousness of sin, 
the loss of paradise which it involves, the offence 
committed against God, they change their 


sentiments. The confessors themselves should 
endeavor to enkindle compunction in their peni 
tents, when they are not contrite." 

So our saint continued to the end the Most 
Zealous Doctor. He instructed all who ap 
proached him, by word and example. When 
.secular gentlemen came to the convent to make 
the spiritual exercises, he would cause himself to 
be carried to the church that he might encourage 
them to avoid sin and devote themselves entirely 
to God. On one of these occasions he nsisted 
on being brought thither, though he had just 
been bled. The effort of an hour s sermon on the 
love of Jesus and Mary reopened the wound, 
and blood flowed abundantly while he gave them 
his blessing. The audience reverently dipped 
their handkerchiefs in the oozing fluid, and ever 
after regarded them as relics. When priests 
made retreats in the house, he would always 
invite them to his room, and go through some 
spiritual reading with them. His great aim was 
to inspire them with devotion towards the 
blessed sacrament and the Blessed Virgin, hor 
ror of sin, and mercy towards sinners. 

In June 1871, he paid his last visit to the nuns 
of the Convent of the Purity. He spoke as usual 
of the love of Jesus and Mary, of the benefit of a 
religious vocation, and the strictness with which 
religious should observe their rules. The nuns 
offered him a beautiful bouquet, which he ac 
cepted, and placed on Our Blessed Lady s altar. 
His solicitude for those who were more imme 
diately his spiritual children, seemed to increase 


in intensity. " It is certain," said he to them one 
day, " that God wishes you to be saints. I recom 
mend to you poverty and obedience ; obedience, 
were it even to the cook. He who fails in 
obedience fails in his duty to God, and God will 
drive him out of the Congregation. I regard 
failings against poverty and obedience as capital 

He was, if possible, more particular than ever 
about enforcing punctuality in all the common 
exercises " I do not want great things," said 
he, " let them be little, provided they be con 
stant." But he did not suffer the less spiritual 
matters to escape him, and was always sure to 
inform himself as to how his dear sons were 
treated with regard to food, clothing, and lodg 
ing. " We receive strangers hospitably," said 
he, " and are we to neglect our own ? " He once 
gave his director, Father Villani, a very sharp rep 
rimand for not making it his business to see that 
the Fathers and Brothers were supplied with all 
necessary for them ; nor would he receive any 
excuse for neglect of duty in this particular. 
When unable to leave His bed, he was always 
reading, praying, or meditating ; and if anything 
struck him as particularly worth remembering, 
he made it a point to tell it to the Fathers wno 
came to sit with him after supper, that they too 
might be benefited. 

The only thing about his infirmities that dis 
pleased him was that they made him burdensome 
to others. He could not bear to have his food 
brought to his room, until Father Villani com- 


manded him, as it was impossible for him to go 
to the refectory. When a service was done him 
he testified his gratitude with a gracefulness 
peculiar to himself, and he would riot ask the 
smallest favor except in the humblest manner.* 
In short, he continued to be to the end, and in 
all his relations, what an admiring friend once 
described him, "the most perfect gentleman 
among the Neapolitan clergy." 

His condition became unusually painful from 
September iQth, 1784, Avhen an internal rupture 
took place as he was taking his daily drive. He 
was taken out of the carriage, brought to a 
neighboring house, and placed on a bed, to all 
appearance quite dead. The surgeons who were 
instantly summoned had great difficulty in re 
pairing the effects of this new calamity, the 
rupture having become much worse by the jolt 
ing of the carriage, and he was brought home in 
a most alarming condition. Nevertheless he 
rallied a little, but as he could never again enter 
a carriage, the doctors ordered that he should 
be carried out in a sedan chair. The rector had 
to use all his authority to induce him to try this 
new vehicle, but after the first essay the saint 
had quite enough of it. " What ! " he cried, 
" must I be carried on the shoulders of these 

* His usual mode of requesting, and even commanding, was, 
" Have the goodness to oblige me," "Do this in charity for a 
poor old man," " For the love of our dear Lady gratify me in 
this," " Have compassion with a feeble old man, and obey for the 
sake of Jesus Christ," " I beseech you to give me this consolation, 
that you will do this for the love of God," c. 


poor men? The thought of it made the going 
out yesterday more painful than salutary." 
The Fathers explained that these people had 
no repugnance whatever to carry his chair or 
litter, that they earned their bread by this kind 
of labor ; but it was all useless, and not to distress 
him again in this respect, a wheel-chair was pro 
cured, which could be easily propelled up and 
clown the corridor. 

He now sent his horses to Naples to be sold, 
and introduced them to the nobility and gentry 
of that city by the following flattering descrip 
tion : " As for the horses, I do not wish to have 
any scruples about them : mention therefore that 
one of them suffers in the jaws and cannot eat, 
hay or oats ; the other, which is older; suffers 
from vertigo, and throws himself on the ground 
from time to time ; his ears must be pulled in 
order to make him rise. Explain all this, as I wish 
to be free from scruples." Such rare candor 
did not add to the value of the horses. One was 
sold for the equivalent of eighteen francs ; the 
other for six ! Such was the inglorious fate 
which awaited the superb equipage pertaining 
to the aristocratic prelate of St. Agatha. 

On Friday, November 25th, 1784, the saint 
celebrated mass for the last time. As he gradu 
ally became more infirm, Father Villani felt 
constrained to deprive him of this, his greatest 
consolation. But he continued to hear mass and 
receive Holy Communion daily ; sometimes he 
heard five or six masses, and he was accustomed 
to remain before the blessed sacrament, rapt 


and motionless, five or six hours every day, as 
Brother Francis Anthony testified. 

He now began to suffer all the anguish, 
scruples, terror, and perplexities, which are the 
martyrdom of privileged souls ; he became the 
sport of diabolical temptations to such an extent 
that he quite lost his ordinary serenity. " Who 
knows," he would say, weeping, " whether I am 
in the state of grace, and whether I shall be 
saved ? Ah ! my sweet Jesus, do not allow me to 
be lost, for in hell I could not love Punish 
me as I deserve, but do not cast me from thee ! " 
He had also to struggle against the rebellion of 
his senses, and against thoughts of vanity, pre 
sumption, and incredulity. " There is not one 
of our mysteries," said Father Mazzini, " against 

which he was not tempted I have been 

terrified at his temptations, but amazed at his 
courage in resisting them." 

Only one thing could quiet him the voice of 
his confessor. Hence when these awful tempta 
tions were unusually importunate, he would drag 
himself to the room of Father Villani to receive 
a word of consolation. If Father Villani were 
not within reach, he would tell his temptation or 
scruple to any priest he could find ; and, as he 
always hesitated about disturbing or inconvenien 
cing any one, it cost him incredible pain to 
address himself to a Father, at the unseasonable 
hours during which these mental struggles 
usually became most violent. 

What will seem almost incredible is, that this 
aged saint, broken down with sorrows and wasted 


to a shadow with bodily infirmities a saint, 
moreover, who had always led a life of angelic 
purity should now be a prey to those sensual 
temptations which become so dreadful a cross to 
a soul that has chosen Jesus Christ as her only 
spouse. So violent were these horrible tempt 
ations that at times he could not distinguish 
feeling from consent ; and then he would sigh, 
and groan, and strike his feet against the ground 
as one writhing in agony which, passing outside 
of the soul, convulsed the body also. ." My 
lord," said a priest who called to see him one 
day, " you seem so melancholy, you who were 
never known to be other than cheerful." " Alas ! " 
replied he, " I endure the torments of hell." 
Sometimes when unable to sleep at night, he 
would call the brother who usually waited on 
him, and the faithful Alexis who had followed 
him from St. Agatha, that they might aid him 
to dissipate his terrors, and not unfrequently 
were they obliged to summon Father Villani or 
Father Mazzini to his bedside. 

Even in prayer he ceased to find conscious 
support. " I go to God," said he to his director, 
" and he repulses me. This morning I said : 
My Jesus, I love thee, but a voice within me 
insisted: That is not true. Alas! my Jesus," 
he sighed, looking towards the crucifix, " shall I 
not have the happiness of loving thee eternally ? 
My dear Mother Mary, why must I not love thee 
forever?" When tempted against faith, he was 
heard to murmur incessantly: "I believe, O 
Lord, and I wish to live and die a child of the 


Church." Wonderful faith, but still more won 
derful humility ! A founder, a bishop, a theologian 
of European reputation, a master in Israel his 
only boast, the only claim he makes on the Divine 
Mercy which he so loved to magnify is, not that 
he is priest, or bishop, or founder, or doctor, but 
a simple, docile child of the Church a child such 
as Jesus took by the hand and set in the midst 
of apostles, saying : Unless you become as THIS 
LITTLE CHILD, you shall not enter heaven. 

Temptations against chastity harassed him al 
most to the end. " I am eighty-eight years old," 
said he one day to Father Criscuoli, " and the 
fire of my youth is not yet extinct. My Jesus," 
he would exclaim, in these terrific straits, " grant 
that I may die rather than offend thee ! O Mary, 
if thou wilt not assist me, I may sin worse than 
Judas ! Alas," he sighed, " I have trodden under 
foot all my obligations ; I no longer say mass 
or office ; I neglect good works ; my senses are 
rebellious, and I eat like a wolf. I cannot under 
stand how God bears with me." 

When his meals were brought to him, he 
could scarcely induce himself to eat, for fear 
of sinning, and after having commenced, he 
was seen to stop suddenly, fearful of the mere 
natural gratification which a hungry man takes 
in satisfying his hunger. One day he said to 
Father Villani : " I hear an interior voice say 
ing: Thou hast forsaken thy God, and he has 
forsaken thee. The Father enlarged on the 
goodness of God, who willeth not the death of a 
sinner, but rather that he be converted and live. 


11 O my God !" exclaimed the saint, " how many 
times have I said these words to encourage sin 
ners, and see how I have forgotten them myself! " 

The thick gloom that shrouded his once bril 
liant mind used to increase in intensity as the 
hour of communicating approached. Love made 
him long to be united to Jesus Christ, but fear 
sometimes predominated. Several times he 
would not have approached the Holy Table, if 
Father Villani had not come just in time to com 
mand him. One day he remained irresolute 
until noon, when his scruple suddenly passed 
away, and he cried out, shedding tears of devo 
tion : " Give me Jesus Christ ! " On another oc 
casion, he was so intensely eager to communicate 
that moments appeared ages, and he repeated 
again and again with seraphic ardor : " When 
wilt thou come, my dear Jesus ? I wish to satiate 
my love. I hope to love my Jesus eternally, al 
though my sins have deserved hell." 

While most grievously assailed by temptation, 
he petitioned to be brought to the church, say 
ing that the devil left him in peace while he was 
before the blessed sacrament. Heavily as these 
desolations and obscurities weighed upon him 
mentally, and even physically, he received all 
who came to consult him with his accustomed 
urbanity, resolved their doubts in his clear, 
incisive manner, and consoled them in their little 
afflictions as though he himself stood in no need 
of consolation. The mystery of direction in the 
Catholic Church ! he could impart light though 
he was conscious only of darkness, and console 


others while he felt himself utterly abandoned 
by God ! A cousin of his, member of a religious 
Congregation in Naples, who happened to be 
tormented by scruples and temptations, at the 
same time wrote to him for advice and received 
the following reply : 

" Your Reverence tells me there are times when 
you believe yourself lost: let us console each 
other and be of good cheer, for I am often in 
similar straits. Although so near death, tempta 
tions do not leave me, and like yourself my only 
resource is the crucifix. Let us then embrace the 
cross, and keep our eyes immovably fixed on 
our dying Jesus. Thus shall we have ground to 
hope that he will not condemn us to hell, where 
we should be separated from him, which would 
constitute the hell of our hell. Let us therefore 
say to him continually : Lord, cause me to love 
thee, and then send me where thou pleasest. 
Chastise me as thou wilt my sins deserve all 
but do not deprive me of the happiness of 
loving thee . . . . Amid all these disturbances, 
do not forget to pray for poor sinners, especially 
towards the close of your meditations." 

It is worthy of remark that despite all these 
scruples and desolations of spirit, our saint never 
omitted any of his devotional exercises. Prayer 
and spiritual reading divided his days. He read 
with particular satisfaction the Lives of St. 
Gregory Nazianzen and St. Francis de Sales, as 
they had both gone through trials resembling 
his own, and had come forth from the crucible 
unscathed and purified. 



Diabolical phantoms. The Neapolitan missionary. The phantom 
priest. Another temptation. Heavenly favors. Super 
natural instinct. The feast of the Blood of Jesus. TS 
mental power of the saint not impaired. The act of love. 
Saintly coachmen. God glorifies the sanctity of His servant. 
The burning mountain. The little children. The saint s 
testimony to P ather de Meo s sanctity. Gift of prophecy. - 
Humility of the saint. His heroic obedience. His gent e- 
manly demeanor among his brethren. "Always crooked." 
Advice to a young cleric. Pious practices. Vacant sees. 

ORDINARY wiles not succeeding, the devil pre 
sented himself before the saint under the guise 
of strange phantoms. These apparitions came 
sometimes in one shape, sometimes in another, 
to alarm and annoy him. Once it was as a Nea 
politan missionary who lauded his works to the 
skies, but Alphonsus humbled himself saying: 
" I have indeed done what I could, but all the 
good results from the divine assistance." " That 
is true," was the rejoinder, " but it will always 
be said they are your works, and you shall have 
the entire credit of the good effected by them." 
At this Alphonsus prayed and made the sign of 
the cross, upon which the phantom immediately 

Another day the devil entered his room in the 
form of a priest, and endeavored to excite him 
to despair. " I have done nothing good of my 
self," said he, " I am incapable of anything good, 


I have no merits, save the merits of Jesus 
Christ." This humble confession quickly de 
spatched the tempter. " Oh, these are only natural 
feelings, and therefore perfectly sinless," said the 
devil on another occasion, when Alphonsus was 
molested with a sting of the flesh. Although 
the malignant spirit had come in the form of one 
of the Fathers, Alphonsus resisted this impious 
doctrine with so much energy that he almost 
fell from his chair. 

Again the demon approached the saint as a 
gentleman whom he tenderly loved : " What 
can you hope for," said he, " what can either of 
us hope for, if both are destined to be damned ? " 
" Even in hell I will love Jesus Christ," returned 
the fervent lover ; " I trust not in my works, but 
in his Passion and death." The cloven foot was 
made apparent by the effects of this confession, 
and its owner rapidly disappeared. 

But our generous confessor was not left wholly 
without solace. Indeed his raptures and ecstasies 
were more frequent than ever during his latter 
years, and his more violent temptations were 
invariably followed by some precious heavenly 
favor. The Fathers who were honored by per 
sonal intercourse with him, love to expatiate 
on the ravishments of divine love which ever and 
anon irradiated the wasted lineaments of his 
noble countenance. Hours passed by unheeded 
when he knelt before the beloved of his soul, 
and in these intimate communications with his 
God, he already realized the perfect charity that 
casteth out fear. Even now was his hoary head 


decked with the halo of sanctity, and the dark 
ness of night was often illumined by the celestial 
light which brightened his countenance. He 
knew by a supernatural instinct when the blessed 
sacrament was near, and on one occasion when 
Father Garziilo, who was ninety years old, had 
inadvertently passed from the memento lor the 
living to the memento for the dead, the saint 
observed to the brother : " Father Garziilo has 
not consecrated to-day," and the servant Alexis 
who had served the mass, testified that this was 
the case. 

Once on Wednesday in Holy Week, Alexis 
overheard him repeat ten times over, "T ---morrow- 
is the feast of the Blood of Jesus." Brother 
Anthony went in and said : " True, to-morrow 
will be Holy Thursday, when commemoration is 
made of the body and blood of Jesus Christ." 
Alphonsus, perceiving that he had been heard, 
said no more. What made this a little remarka-. 
ble is, that for some time previous he had been 
unable to distinguish the months of the year or 
the days of the week. Nevertheless his mind 
was not in the slightest degree impaired. One 
day he asked the young clerics who had come 
to pass the recreation hour with him, to explain 
a stanza of a hymn by St. John of the Cross. 
The mystical sense of this poem was too deep 
for students, but the saint explained it with such 
unction and eloquence, depth of learning and 
supernatural light, that both Fathers and clerics 
were mute with admiration. 

Once when, the saint had been bewailing that 


he was no longer able to serve God as of old, 
that he now satisfied none of his obligations, one 
of the Fathers, compassionating the genuine grief 
from which these lamentations exhaled, explained 
that his age and infirmities dispensed him from 
the pious exercises he had once performed with 
such fervent alacrity, and that an act of love 
would supply for all. " Teach me, then," he 
said with emotion, " to make an act of love." 
The father bent over him, and uttered the beau 
tiful words which we learn in childhood, and 
hope to repeat with ever increasing fervor as the 
dark shadows of death thicken about us : " My 
God ! I love thee with my whole heart ! " " My 
God ! I love thee with my whole heart," echoed 
the saint, and he repeated again and again this 
cherished aspiration, sucking sweetness out of 
every word till he was ravished in ecstasy. 

Joseph di Mauro, one of the king s architects, 
"having come to Pagani to examine the Redemp- 
torist church, went to pay his. respects to the 
saint, who, when the first salutations were over, 
asked whether the theatres were much fre 
quented at Naples. Mauro having replied in 
the affirmative, he continued with still greater 
interest: "And the churches are they much 
frequented? " " O yes, " returned the architect, 
" and you cannot imagine the good that results 
from this All classes, especially the working 
people, crowd them, and we have saints even 
among the coachmen." At these words the 
saint rose quickly from his recumbent position, 
and exclaimed in a tone of joy and triumph : 


"Saintly coachmen at Naples! Gloria Patri" 
He could not sleep for joy at this intelligence, 
but during the night would frequently call to 
the brother or to Alexis : " You heard what 
Don Mauro said : * Saints among the coachmen 
at Naples ! what do you think of that? " 

During an eruption of Mount Vesuvius God 
glorified the sanctity of his servant. The town 
in which the saint lived was in great danger, 
from its proximity to the burning mountain. 
The Fathers, terrified at the frightful spectacle, 
informed Alphonsus of their peril ; and, unable 
to resist their reiterated entreaties, he looked 
towards the flaming summit, and said : " I bless 
thee in the name of the Father, and of the 
Son, and of the Holy Ghost." He had scarcely 
uttered these sacred words, when the fiery 
torrents took another direction, and the volcano 
vomited its burning matter into the gorge of a 
.neighboring valley. 

We have already remarked the tender affec 
tion which Alphonsus always manifested for 
children. While he was able to go out, mothers 
would hold up their little ones for his blessing, 
and on perceiving them, he always had the 
carriage stopped. If they were ill, he blessed 
them and prayed over them, and his wrinkled 
hands lingered lovingly on their pretty little 
heads. When he could no longer leave the house, 
the mothers still brought their babes to him, es 
pecially the sick, and the brother and servant who 
usually presented them declared that he effected 
thousands of cures on these innocent patients. 


The gift of prophecy with which he was en 
dowed manifested itself more frequently as his 
end approached. One day he remarked to the 
Fathers, that the Congregation was about to 
sustain a great loss. Shortly after, that prodigy 
of erudition and sanctity, Father Alexander de 
Meo, was struck with apoplexy while preaching, 
at Nola, and died in the church. Alphonsus 
felt this loss keenly, as he loved the deceased 
Father most tenderly, and revered him as a saint. 
" Father de Meo," said he, " is such that he gives 
one an idea of the wisdom of God." Wonderful 
praise, from a savant to a savant, from a father 
to his son, from a saint to a saint ! 

To a young man who came from Naples to be 
cured by the saint, he said : " Pray to our dear 
Lady to assist you to die well." The youth 
understood him, took his advice, and in a few 
days was no more. Looking into futurity, Al 
phonsus in the spirit of a patriot and a saint, 
thanked God that he was not to live to witness 
the entrance of the French into his native city 
(1799). He often unconsciously gave evidence 
that he could read the secrets of hearts. A 
gentleman one day asked him to do some 
thing for his daughter, who was said to be 
possessed. "Possession!" he exclaimed, " let 
the girl make a good confession." She followed 
his advice, and immediately ceased to be 

The saint disclaimed all power to work 
miracles. " If I had any such power," he said, 
" would I not heal my own crippled limbs, 


and my paralyzed body." Yet miracles he 
wrought almost every day of his life. 

The faithful knew that God was with him, 
hence he never made his appearance without 
being surrounded. " Must I bless all these?" he 
once asked of Fathers Villani and Mazzini, his 
humility being alarmed at the gifts they attrib 
uted to him. The Fathers assured him that it 
was a bishop s office to bless, and that it would 
not be right to refuse. The children, above all 
others, delighted to surround him ; they instinc 
tively knew that he loved them dearly. " Look 
at these young sparrows around an old owl," he 
once said gleefully, as the little ones clung to his 
habit or gambolled at his feet. He sometimes 
scrambled to the convent door to get a little 
fresh air ; on these occasions his little favorites 
never left him alone. 

The obedience of the saint was so perfect that 
he literally did not wish to move, if possible, 
without permission. He obeyed even the ser 
vants who waited on him. They could make 
him do whatever they pleased. 

His love of holy poverty grew stronger every 
day. If any one chanced to say, " your book," 
" your pen," he would gently observe that he had 
nothing of his own. The poorest fare pleased 
him best, and it was with difficulty he could be 
persuaded to use any other. 

To the last, he showed himself a perfect gen 
tleman in his intercourse with his brethren. He 
hated to enter his wheel-chair, because one of his 
sons, or his dear humble friend Alexis, had to 


draw it. Father Villani refused to allow him to 
dispense with this poor comfort. " But," objected 
the saint, " the noise of the wheels disturbs the 
Fathers on both sides of the corridor. There 
should be perfect silence while they write or 
study." He insisted so much on this that 
the rector compromised by consenting to 
have the wheels of the noisy vehicle covered 
with leather. So scrupulous was the servant of 
God in all that concerned religious modesty, 
that he would only allow his wounds to be 
dressed when commanded by his director. 

As he was unable to inflict those corporal 
mortifications to which he had accustomed him 
self from youth, he adopted the equally painful 
though passive one, of remaining motionless in 
his chair from morning till night. Alexis having 
one day placed him in an uncomfortable posture, 
set about rectifying the mistake. " What is the 
use of my moving," pleaded the saint, smiling, 
" whichever way I turn, I am always crooked. * 
The grand vicar Rubini had noticed at Arienzo 
that he often kept the same position for five or 
six hours together. 

The love of God inflamed his heart to such a 
degree that he seemed to lead the life of a seraph. 
" By the divine mercy," said he to Father 
Villani, " I do not feel attached to anything 
terrestrial." Very often his whole day seemed 
an uninterrupted transport of love. His sole 
delight was to receive Jesus Christ, or to remain, 
unconscious of the lapse of time, before the 
eternal lover of his soul in the tabernacle. Even 


during sleep, he could think only of Jesus and 
Mary : " O my sweet Jesus," he would exclaim 
in his dreams, " how beautiful art thou ! How 
lovely art thou, O Mary !" So great was his love 
for Jesus crucified, that when he was no longer 
able to make the stations, he used to perform the 
way of the cross in spirit in his room, before a 
large crucifix. 

To a young cleric who came to ask his blessing 
he said : " My son, if you wish to persevere, 
communicate several times a week, and be 
devout to the blessed sacrament and the Blessed 
Virgin." The youth longing for another bless 
ing, again souglit his father s room : " My son," 
said tiie saint at the second visit, " I recommend 
to you holy obedience. By obedience vou will 
please God, and be loved in the Congregation ; 
but I especially recommend you to be devout to 
Mary and the holy eucharist." And on a third 
visit, the saint received him with more kindness 
than ever, and said : " If the enemy of God 
tempts you to leave the Congregation, imme 
diately have recourse to Jesus and Mary, and do 
not cease to invoke them till the temptation 

As he perceived his memory to be failing in 
some things, he made Brother Francis write 
some of his daily pious practices, lest he should 
forget them : " Ten acts of love ; ten acts of 
conformity to the divine will ; ten acts of 
love towards Jesus Christ; ten acts of love 
to the Blessed Virgin ; ten acts of love to 
the blessed sacrament; ten acts of confidence 


in Jesus Christ ; ten acts of confidence in Mary ; 
ten acts of resignation in suffering ; ten acts 
of abandonment to God ; ten acts of abandon 
ment to Mary ; and ten prayers to do the will 
of God." 

The same interest in the temporal concerns of 
his Fathers and brothers, the same solicitude 
for the sick, distinguished him to the end, but he 
was far more interested in their spiritual good. 
His zeal extended over the whole Church, and 
he might say with the apostle whom he resembles 
in many respects : " Who is weak and I am not 
weak ? Who is scandalized and I am not on fire ? " 
Tell him of some scandal or disedification, and it 
affected him so deeply that he could neither 
sleep nor eat ; but recount some of the glories of 
the Church, and the aged invalid visibly grew 
young again. Hearing from Father Falcoia 
that the missionaries were effecting much good 
in the Pontifical States, he testified the liveliest 
joy, and incessantly repeated, " God be praised 
forever ! God be praised ! " 

When he heard there was a prospect of recon 
ciliation between the courts of Rome and Naples, 
he seemed transported with gladness. The pre 
tensions of the Neapolitan court caused many 
sees to be left vacant. " I am anxious that the 
bishoprics should be provided with holy pre- 
tates," said he, " for when sees are vacant, things 
go wrong, and souls are lost. Do you know 
what results from the absence of bishops ? The 
loss of souls, without any notice being taken of 
it. This has caused me to weep before God for 


the past six months. The want of a bishop is 
the ruin of a diocese." 

When the Bishops of Gaeta and Avellino 
came to inquire after his health, he replied : " I 
am as one who must soon appear before the tri 
bunal of Jesus Christ." Then, with a touch of 
his old fire, he said to the former : " Now that 
you are going to Naples, I entreat you to send 

for Father N , and tell him from me, not to 

maltreat souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus 
Christ." This was a priest of Jansenistical pro 
clivities. One day our most zealous doctor was 
accidentally overheard bearing to himself this 
magnificent testimony : " Lord, thou knowest 
that all I have thought, said, done, or written, 
has had no other end than thy glory and the sal 
vation of souls." With regard to the habitual 
candor and sincerity of his language, he once let 
these words escape, when conferring with Father 
Villani on the state of his conscience : " I am a 
bishop, and I ought to tell the truth ; I do not 
remember having ever uttered a deliberate 
falsehood, even when I was a child." 


God alone. Incorrect conclusion. Vigor of the saint s intellect. 
His fear of God s judgments. His exalted idea of the sacer 
dotal dignity. His consummate tact. Celebration of his 
ninetieth birthday. Young men of ninety. Foreshadowing. 
Interesting details. The saint is visited by his absent children. 
"By thy words thou shalt be justified." Visit of Count 
Joseph Liguori. "Save your soul." Parting benedictions. 
Brother Gerard. Delicate attentions of the Neapolitan bishops. 
Universal grief for the hopeless condition of the saint. 

WE now approach the term of our saint s long 
and weary pilgrimage. More than ever, God 
alone possessed his whole heart and soul, and 
nothing save what concerned the glory or ser 
vice of God awakened within him the slightest 
interest. When people spoke in his presence of 
mere worldly matters, he would make his deaf 
ness an excuse for keeping silence, or assume an 
air of imbecility that made superficial observers 
imagine that the once bright intellect of the great 
doctor was now obscured by the dull mists of 
dotage. Yet when subjects were introduced 
which he considered worthy of his attention, he 
conversed as gracefully and intelligently as ever, 
and proved himself capable of grappling success 
fully with the more obscure questions of moral, 
mystical, or dogmatic theology. Those who 
consulted him on matters of conscience, had 
their doubts resolved and their difficulties 


cleared up as lucidly as he could have done it in 
the prime of life. 

" Pray for me," said he to some priests who 
visited him, " I am about to present mysejf at the 
judgment-seat of God;" and this idea affected 
him so deeply that the priests withdrew in terror, 
saying : " If he trembles, what will become of 
us?" He had a most exalted idea of the 
sacerdotal dignity. Two newly ordained priests 
having come one day to pay their respects, he 
kissed their hands with devotion, and exclaimed : 
" O what a great dignity is the priesthood ! You 
are now exalted above sovereigns, kings, and 
emperors ! " He showed a ready tact in accom 
modating his conversation to his visitors. When 
Don Gaetano Celano and his wife, who were 
munificent benefactors of the Congregation, 
visited him a little previous to his happy death, 
he received them with his usual urbanity, and 
testified the liveliest gratitude for the favors they 
had done him. Then, determined that they 
should not leave him without receiving some 
spiritual benefit, he dexterously turned the con 
versation on the duties of the married state, and 
gave them some useful counsel, assuring them 
that their happiness depended on their having 
but one heart and one will. 

His biographers give numerous other instances 
to show the acuteness of his fine mental powers 
to the very last. And not a few among the emi 
nent men of Naples came at one time or another 
to test them ; but it was not a wreck of genius 
they encountered, the saint, the scholar, the 


philosopher he was all these, as in the heyday 
of youth and strength. 

On the 27th of September, 1786, a solemn high 
mass was celebrated in the church of Nocera, in 
thanksgiving for the preservation of the Father 
and Founder for so many years. Father Villani 
and the community paid him an early visit, to 
announce to him that he had completed his 
ninetieth year, and offer their warm and sincere 
congratulations. The saint was deeply moved by 
this graceful attention, and shedding tears of 
joy he said : " I do not deserve such kindness ; all 
comes from the divine mercy. I thank my 
dear Fathers and Brothers most sincerely. God 
himself will reward their charity." 

When he heard of the death of his old friend, 
Father Garzillo, who was almost a hundred, he 
made an act of resignation, said a De profomdis, 
and then jocosely remarked : " I am another of 
these young men." He knew that he would 
soon join the friends of his youth and the com 
panions of his declining years, and he rejoiced in 
the thought. To a Carmelite father who was in 
the habit of visiting him every year, he said, in 
September, 1786: " Father Joseph, we shall not 
meet again next year." His words were pro 
phetic. On the Feast of Our Lady of Mount 
Carmel, July 16, 1787, he observed in a joyful 
tone to his faithful attendant : " Brother, I have 
a new function to perform." He alluded to his 
approaching death. 

Two days after, the gravest symptoms super 
vened. As the body became weaker, the soul 


increased in fortitude. Not a doubt, fear, or 
scruple now disturbed the dying saint. " J 
was constantly beside him," wrote the affection 
ate and devoted Tannoia, " and I did not suffer 
the gentlest sigh of him who had loved me so 
well, to pass unheeded." 

Mass was celebrated in his room, and he com 
municated daily, as usual. It was crowded from 
morning till night. The Bishop of Nocera, 
Monsignore Sanfelice, came every day, as did 
all the neighboring priests and religious, anxious 
to gather some of the precious pearls that 
dropped from the lips of the dying saint. To a 
Father who asked how he was, he said sweetly : 
" Recommend me to Jesus Christ." To a simi 
lar question from the faithful Brother Anthony, 
he merely said : " Thanks be to God." 

When the same brother asked him to bless all 
the Fathers and Brothers, he said with touching 
tenderness : " And you too. You must pray 
to God and the Blessed Virgin for me," he 
continued, as he blessed his beloved children, 
and, fixing his dying eyes upon them with un 
speakable tenderness, foretold them all manner 
of benedictions. 

On the morning of the 24th, he frequently 
asked the surrounding Fathers to be quick in giv 
ing him holy communion. But there was some de 
lay, and when the time for feceiving came he was 
unconscious. The doctors now gave him over. 
When somewhat recovered, he was told to prepare 
for extreme unction, but remembering he had not 
communicated, he said ; " I wish to have his 


body." He was again told to prepare for his 
last anointing, but his mind was full of one idea, 
and he repeated, " give me his body." Fearing 
that he was not sufficiently conscious, his direc 
tor did not comply with this request, but admin 
istered extreme unction, and then desired him as 
bishop and superior to bless the Congregation in 
the names of Jesus and Mary. Alphonsus raised 
his hand, and imparted to all his children the 
coveted benediction. 

As soon as his life was despaired of, Father 
Villani notified the distant houses, and all the 
rectors and as many of the Fathers as could be 
spared, set out to visit him. This pleased him 
greatly, and his delight at seeing his dear sons 
once more, especially those of the States, lit up 
his wasting lineaments, as he blessed them with 
the sign of the cross. 

" By thy words thou-shalt be justified." Col 
lecting the scattered sentences that escaped from 
this profoundly learned, eloquent, and holy man, 
daring the closing days of his mortal career, we 
present a few to our readers as his most fitting 
panegyric. " My Jesus, I love thee with my 
whole heart, because thou didst die for me." 
"Give me my Jesus." " I offer all my sufferings 
to Jesus." " I believe all the Holy Catholic 
Church teaches, and therefore I have hope." 
41 Is the eucharist coming?" " My Jesus, do not 
leave me." Such are the blessed aspirations 
that issued from the abundance of the burning 
heart of this earthly seraph. 

His nephew, Don Joseph, came from 


with his wife and her uncle, the Prince of Pol- 
leca, and on entering his room, said : " I have 
come to see you, and to ask your blessing." " I 
thank you," said Alphonsus, with the exquisite 
courtesy which always distinguished him ; but 
when the young nobleman asked for some good 
advice, the dying man repeated impressively : 
""SAVE YOUR SOUL." The young wife, Donna 
Gusmana, having come in with her uncle, 
Alphonsus blessed them also. Joseph desiring 
to hear more words of wisdom from the saint 
who had watched over his childhood, and 
guided his boyish steps in virtue, came closer, 
took the cold and clammy hand, and reminded 
the dying saint that he was his nephew. The 
saint pressed his hand, and held it for some 
time, after which he endeavored to raise his 
feeble arm in benediction over the heir of his 
dear, deceased brother ; but finding that the 
party still lingered, he said : " Be satisfied ; it is 
finished ; you can go now." SAVE YOUR SOUL 
was the alpha and omega of his advice to his 
relatives on all occasions. 

Temptations of most violent character now 
assailed him at intervals, but the voice of his 
confessor, or a pious ejaculation, sufficed to dis 
perse them. The Fathers would suggest, as occa 
sion required, acts of every virtue, which he 
repeated distinctly. Once he asked suddenly : 
" What must I do to merit ? " " Do the will ojf 
God," rejoined a Father. Then the saint re 
mained silent. Sometimes he would fix his eyes 
lovingly on a picture of Our Lady of Sorrows. 


Every morning many masses were celebrated in 
his presence, the Fathers being anxious to 
gratify him in every particular ; and to say or to 
hear mass he had always regarded as his greatest 
privilege and delight. Brother Francis Anthony 
asked him to bless the houses of the Papal 
States, which he did in a loud voice, and with 
evident emotion. He gave his parting bene 
diction to his former diocese, and in particular 
to the nuns who had loved him as a Father. 
Then he said with emphasis : "I bless the king, 
all the generals, princes, and ministers, and all 
the magistrates -who administer justice." 

Although the saint s advanced age gave little 
hope of his recovery, yet prayers ascended 
to heaven without intermission, for that inten 
tion, from convents, churches, religious con 
gregations, and the poor. When one of the 
Fathers placed in his hand a picture of his dear 
son, Brother Gerard, to whom he had much 
devotion, guessing the intention of the donor, 
he said sweetly : " God does not will that 
Brother Gerard should cure me." 

Though the news of the change for death 
could not excite much surprise, it caused univer 
sal grief. It was only now that priests and peo 
ple realized how much they loved him. Prayers 
were offered all over Naples, that God might 
give him a happy passage; and the town of St. 
Agatha rivalled his native city in demonstrations 
of grief and affection. Many of the bishops of 
the kingdom ordained that the collect Pro infirmo 
should be said at every mass until the purified 


soul of his distinguished colleague should have 
passed to a brighter world. 

The wound in the saint s throat from which 
he had suffered so much at Arienzo, reopened 
some days before his death, and rendered his 
condition intensely painful ; but his patience and 
resignation under this new affliction could not 
fail to enhance his crown. God again glorified 
his sanctity by miracles. His touch and his 
blessing restored hearing to Father Samuel, 
ex-Provincial of the Capuchins ; healed the 
inveterate * ulcer of Father Buonopane ; and 
enabled the crippled canon, Dominic Villani, to 
throw away his crutches, and spring about with 
all the agility of his youthful days. 

Although Alphonsus had prophesied that his 
death was at hand, and appearances fully justified 
the prediction, his sons could not accustom them 
selves to the idea of losing him. Prayers were 
offered day and night, that he might be left with 
them just a little longer; and, not to neglect 
human means, they summoned two eminent 
physicians from Naples. But, as the departing 
saint himself observed, it was not God s will to 
restore him. Towards midnight on the 25th of 
July, he became so faint that the attendants 
thought his chastened spirit had already passed 
the blessed portals of death. Masses succeeded 
each other in his room, from two in the morning 
of the 26th until noon. At the Sanctus of the 
first mass, he opened his eyes and looked at the 
celebrant ; at the Elevation he did the same, arid 
moved his lips as if in prayer. Absolution was 


pronounced over him at three A. M., and the 
prayers for the dying commenced, but he re 
vived during the litanies. Six of the students 
having come from Ciorani for his last benedic 
tion, he recognized them, though in his agony, 
and appeared pleased to see them. Twice 
over he blessed these dear children of his 

At a later mass he communicated, and during 
a following mass made his thanksgiving. The 
Fathers who tried with all their ears to distin 
guish every word he pronounced, now seized 
only these : " I hope so," but his lips continued 
to move in inaudible prayer. He asked for his 
beads, and having received them, commenced to 
recite the rosary, but so gently that his breath 
ings no longer formed audible words. 

On the twenty-seventh, his sufferings were in 
tense. Unable to find rest in any position he 
cried out at intervals, " Help me," " unbind me," 
" place me on the ground." During these terri 
ble spasms, he often exclaimed : " My Jesus ! " 
Mortification having already set in, a poultice 
replaced his bandage ; but, when he felt the in- 
firmarian applying it, he said with tears : " They 
have touched me." Being informed that it was 
only Brother Leonard, who had been with him 
about half a century, he appeared satisfied. 

Next morning, being asked how he felt, he 
replied : " I am dying." Then perceiving the 
solicitude evinced by the Community and 
the medical men, he said : " It is finished." 
Being asked whether he would like to hear mass 


and communicate, he joyfully signified his assent 
and began his preparation. This was on Satur 
day. It was the last time he received Jesus his 
love, in the Blessed Sacrament, to which he was 
so tenderly devoted. 


Details. "Give me the Madonna." The saint can no longer 
articulate. He is visited by our Lady herself. Answer to his 
prayers. The crucifix. His prayer to die among his beloved 
brethren. It is beautifully answered. He dies in an ecstasy 
of love. His soul among the seraphim. His personal ap 
pearance. Character. Obsequies. Veneration of all classes, 
especially the clergy. Funeral honors, devised by the 
Bishop of Nocera, dispensed with. Masses celebrated with 
out intermission. The funeral. Miracles. 

To a last inquiry of his medical friend as to 
how he felt, the saint replied : " My hour ap 
proaches." Fearing that mental and bodily 
weakness might prevent his raising his heart to 
God by aspirations of love and oblation, he begged 
the Fathers to suggest pious affections, and he 
repeated in a faint tone every ejaculation they 
uttered. Once, when they ceased, fearing to 
fatigue him, he said in a tone of loving reproach : 
" Have you no more holy thoughts to suggest 
to me?" When he seemed about to expire, the 
blessed candle was placed in his hands, and the 
beautiful prayers with which Holy Mother 
Church soothes and sanctifies the last breathings 
of her children, were once more affectionately 
recited. After a while, a picture of Our Blessed 
Lady was given him ; he opened his eyes, and 
joined his hands in an attitude of prayer. Then 
having kissed the picture, he recited distinctly 
the Ave Maria. His mind now seemed agitated 


by conflicting emotions, and pressing his hand to 
his forehead, he exclaimed : " My thoughts, will 
you not let me rest?" Next morning he took 
the crucifix, raised it to his lips, opening and 
reopening his eyes to contemplate it. When 
told to place himself in the hands of Mary, he 
stretched out his arms to signify that he offered 
himself to his dear Mother. 

Next morning a picture being placed in his 
hands ; he looked at it attentively, and said : 
" Is this St. Joseph?" " Yes," returned a Father, 
" recommend yourself to him." The servant of 
God continued to gaze fixedly on the image, 
and gently murmured some words, the sense of 
which the attendant Fathers could not catch 
When the devoted Alexis inquired whether h( 
wanted anything, he replied : " All is over. 
Then he said : " Give me the Madonna." When 
a picture of Our Lady was put in his hands, he 
began to invoke her, and recommend himself to 
her protection. In the evening the death rattle 
commenced, and it never left him. About nine 
(Aug. 29th), the prayers for the dying were 
again said, and the holy sufferer being asked to 
bless the Congregation once more, moved his 
head in acquiescence, being no longer able to 
raise his hand. He had frequent fainting fits 
next day, but to rouse him to consciousness it 
was sufficient to repeat the sacred names of 
Jesus and Mary. A Father having offered him 
the picture of St. Michael which hung at 
the head of his bed, he kissed it, and gazing on 
it with affection, recommended himself to the 


blessed archangel. To the acts of faith, hope, 
and charity suggested, he murmured assent, but 
almost inaudibly. Ere*long he could not articu 
late anything, but he continued to respond to 
each pious affection, either by opening his eyes, 
or moving his lips. 

Our Lady herself consoled him in his last 
moments. At the close of day, the two Fathers 
who assisted him saw his face suddenly become 
resplendent, and a sweet smile overspread his 
lips. He held a picture of Our Lady which a 
Father had put in his hands, reminding him to 
invoke her for a happy death. As soon as the 
sweet name of Mary was mentioned, he opened 
his eyes and looked at the picture. About 
seven, he appeared to have another interview 
with the Queen of Heaven, as his biographer 
Tannoia has left on record. 

Then was the life-long prayer of the servant 
of Mary answered. " O Consolation of the 
afflicted," he exclaims, " do not abandon me in 
my last hour ! Obtain for me the grace of 
invoking thee often, that I may expire with thy 
sweet name, and that of thy divine Son, on my 
lips. Pardon my boldness, O my Queen ; come 
thyself to console me with thy presence before 1 
expire. I am a sinner, it is true, and therefore 
do not deserve this favor ; but I am thy servant, 
I love thee, I have great confidence in thee.* O 
Mary, I hope in thee ; do not refuse me this con 
solation. . . . Thou hast bestowed it on many 
others ; I also long for it. If my boldness is 

* Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, 


great, thy goodness is greater, for it seeks out 
the most unworthy to console them." * 

The dying prelate wished to have a crucifix 
continually in his hand, and as every one desired 
to possess one that had been used by him, a new 
one was substituted every few minutes for the 
one he held. He had always longed and prayed 
to die among his beloved sons. " O my God ! " 
he exclaims in his " Preparation for Death," " I 
thank thee now for the favor thou wilt one day 
grant me, of dying surrounded by my dear 
brethren, who will have no anxiety but for my 
eternal salvation, and who will all assist me to 
die well." God gave him this consolation most 
munificently. The Fathers crowded in from all 
the houses, and like another Jacob he died 
surrounded by a numerous progeny. It was not 
in a death struggle but in an ecstasy of love 
that the great spirit of Alphonsus di Liguori 
passed from earth. No pain, no sigh, no sorrow, 
marked its exit. The martyr of love fell asleep 
in the arms of Jesus and Mary as the Angelus 
bell was ringing. The body, chastised and 
brought under subjection, lay in the solemn and 
venerable beauty of " precious death ; " the soul 
might now be sought among the seraphim. He 
at last rested from his labors, an eternal rest ; 
his works still follow him. 

The great Neapolitan saint exchanged exile 
for paradise on the ist day of August, 1787, at 
the age of ninety years, ten months, and five days. 
The Congregation had then entered its fifty- fifth 

* Glories of Mary. 


year, and more than twelve years had elapsed 
since the saint had resigned the episcopate. 

Alphonsus di Liguori was of middle size, and 
was remarkable for personal beauty ; his head 
was rather large, his complexion fresh. A 
broad, lofty forehead, piercing, but tender blue 
eyes, an aquiline nose, and a small mouth often 
relaxing in a heavenly smile, were his most 
attractive features. His hair and beard had been 
jet black ; but sorrows and labors blanched them 
while he was still in his prime. Being naturally 
short-sighted, he usually wore glasses, except 
when preaching, or conversing with women. 
His voice was clear and sonorous ; it was 
capable of filling the most spacious edifice, and 
it never failed him till the last. He had an 
imposing mien, but his manners, though some 
what grave, were exceedingly frank and gracious. 
From infancy to old age, he always made him 
self amiable and agreeable to every one. His 
judgment was subtle and penetrating, his mem 
ory prompt and tenacious, his mind precise and 
methodical. His life was one of continued 
application ; a fulfilment of his vow never to lose 
one moment of time. 

He was by nature courageous and enterpris 
ing, and he usually succeeded even beyond his 
own expectations, because his confidence in God 
never failed. Not to be cast down by adversity, 
he was never unduly elated by prosperity. 

His reprimands were energetic, but he softened 
their severity by his habitual gentleness. Unpity- 
ing towards himself, he was all charity towards 


others. Such is the description biographers con 
cur in giving- of our saint. 

The obsequies of the great doctor were solemn 
and beautiful, such as he himself would have 
desired ; tears, devotion, veneration such were 
the manifestations of all who came to pay him 
the last duty. The Bishop of Nocera, Monsig- 
nore Sanfilice, ordered that every possible re 
spect should be shown to the sacred remains of 
his illustrious colleague ; and by his order, the 
bells of all the churches in Nocera responded to 
the solemn tolling which, from the belfry of the 
Redemptorist convent, announced that the mag 
nanimous soul of the holy Founder reposed in 
the bosom of the Father. 

The city and the adjacent country poured out 
their inhabitants to give a last look at the calm 
and beautiful face, so familiar to them all in its 
aspects of suffering and resignation, of sweetness 
and benignity. So great was the concourse that 
a detachment of the royal cavalry was required 
to preserve order. Every one wished to touch 
the sacred body ; rosaries, scapulars, and other 
objects of devotion were constantly being applied 
to it, and whatever was sanctified by contact 
with this emaciated irame, so long the taber 
nacle of the Holy Ghost, was ever after treasured 
as a relic. The bier was surrounded by star- 
like lights, emblematic of his faith, the victory 
that over comet h the world, and covered with 
the fairest blossoms which the beautiful gar 
dens of Nocera yielded, fitting types of the 
purity and innocence of his life, and the u good 


odor of Christ Jesus " which he was, and is, to 
the world. 

The priests, regular and secular, of the diocese 
of Nocera, relieved each other all day in chant 
ing the office and the Libera, for one who so long 
had been their father, their doctor, their saint, 
their pride. His extraordinary erudition had 
made him an oracle among them for more than 
half a century ; his undoubted sanctity had 
challenged their admiration ; his wonderful 
sweetness had won their hearts, and disarmed 
the petty jealousies which poor human nature 
is sometimes weak enough to show, when there 
is question of virtue and talent almost above its 
own comprehension. Alphonsus de Liguori was 
always extremely beloved by every order of the 
clergy. As he surpassed all his contemporaries 
in learning, so he surpassed them in humility ; 
and in their intercourse with him, instead of be 
ing dazzled by his wonderful mental gifts, they 
were invariably captivated by the genuine good 
ness of his heart. He loved his own Congrega 
tion, but he loved, too, every congregation, every 
order, every priest, every religious, that labored 
for Jesus and Mary. Nothing small, mean, or 
ignoble, ever sullied the expansive soul of our 
most zealous doctor ; he was a thorough gen 
tleman in his intercourse with the clergy, and in 
his dealings with them self-interest never entered 
into his calculations. He Avas edified by 
their virtues, he took pride in their learning, he 
gloried in their success ! Far from confining 
his zeal or his sympathies within the limits of his 


own Congregation, he would have all to be 
preachers, prophets, saints Rcdemptorists, in 
the sense that every priest is the co-laborer of 
the great Redeemer, with whom there is mercy 
and copious redemption. Hence the extraordinary 
affection and veneration shown him by all orders 
of the clergy, especially those to whom he was 
personally known. 

It was arranged that the blessed corpse should 
be carried in procession through the town, 
resting during the chanting of the Libera in the 
church of the saint s dear daughters, the Poor 
Clares, and giving a similar consolation to his 
equally dear nuns of the Purity ; the cortege to 
return, in the same order in which it set out, to 
the Redemptorist convent. But the gentlemen 
of Pagani, or the lower town, would not hear of 
this arrangement, fearing that by some pious 
stratagem the bishop would seize the blessed re 
mains for his cathedral. Vainly did Monsignore 
pledge his word that nothing of the kind was 
intended ; it was only when the Fathers them 
selves assured the excited people that no such 
project was contemplated, that they became 
calm , the bishop, fearing a tumult, dispensed 
with the elegant arrangements he had projected 
for the funeral, and decided that everything 
should be conducted with the greatest simplicity. 

Although on this account no invitations were 
issued, the church and convent of the Re 
demptorist Fathers were crowded with eccle 
siastics of every grade. Temporary altars were 
erected for the accommodation of the numerous 


priests who wished to offer up the holy sacrifice 
in presence of the blessed remains, and masses 
succeeded each other without intermission from 
dawn till noon, each day while the holy body 
remained unburied, in that church doubly con 
secrated by the preaching, the prayers, the tears 
of a saint. 

Crowds besieged the church from daybreak, 
the inhabitants of the neighboring villages insist 
ing upon offering their homages to "the saint." 
The clergy, regular and secular, of the city and 
the adjacent towns, formed as it were a guard 
of honor around the blessed bier, praying rather 
to a saint than for a saint. The mothers, as 
usual, presented their children to touch and kiss 
the blessed body, and Brother Francis Anthony 
and the ever faithful Alexis " suffered them to 
come," remembering the delight which their 
beloved master had always taken in being 
surrounded by the precious little innocents, and 
that he had never shown himself weary of the 
importunity of the eager mothers who presented 

At a signal from the bishop, Monsignore 
Sanfelice, the funeral procession began to form. 
-Six gentlemen of Nocera begged the honor of 
carrying the relics of the saint, but the rectors 
of the four Redemptorist convents in the kingdom 
of Naples refused to relinquish their prior claims. 
The precious burden was therefore placed 
upon their shoulders ; canons held the corners 
of the pall, and six gentlemen surrounded the 
coffin bearing lighted torches. The Fathers of 


St. Francis of Paula, the Carmelite Fathers, the 
Redemptorist priests, students, and lay-brothers, 
and the Cathedral Chapter, preceded the bier, 
the Bishop of Nocera followed, and behind him 
the military and the townspeople. The pro 
cession did not enter the town, but merely de 
scribed an immense semicircle before the church 
and monastery, going out by the great door of the 
latter and returning through the principal gate 
of the former. When the rectors laid down the 
sacred remains, the canons chanted the office, 
after which a grand requiem mass was cele 
brated. The funeral oration was pronounced 
by the celebrated Don F. Pinto, afterwards 
Bishop of Tricarico. To satisfy the surging 
mass of people who could not find room in the 
church, the pulpit was placed near the main 

At eleven o clock A. M. (Aug. 2) a celebrated 
artist of Naples came, without being at all invit 
ed, to take the likeness of the saint. All trace of 
pain and suffering had vanished from the noble 
countenance, which now appeared full of vigor 
and manly beauty, more expressive than ever of 
the two great qualities which preeminently dis 
tinguished the most celebrated of our modern 
bishops, sanctity and intellectual gifts. When 
the cast was removed, part of the skin of the left 
nostril adhered to it, and the bright blood which 
issued from the wound was eagerly but rever 
ently gathered by the pious multitude. 

Whole communities of monks were hourly ar 
riving, with clergy of every order, to the number 


of several hundreds, from all quarters. The space 
in front of the church was thronged with the 
carriages of the nobility, who vied with the. poor, 
the dearer children of the " good bishop," in tes 
tifying their affectionate veneration. Every one 
begged to have something that he had touched, 
but it was impossible to gratify the pious avidity 
of so many thousands. At seven in the evening, 
the bishop, fearing that some disorder might oc 
cur in such an immense concourse, or that some 
disagreement might take place between the peo 
ple and the soldiers on guard, ordered that the 
holy body should be buried. It had remained 
on the catafalque for over thirty-three hours, yet 
notwithstanding the oppressive heat of the weath 
er, it emitted no unpleasant odor. It was depos 
ited in a leaden chest, sealed with the seals of the 
bishopric of Nocera, the municipality of Pagani, 
and the Congregation of the Most Holy Re 
deemer. This chest was fastened with three 
keys, one of which was given to the mayor oi 
the town, the second to the saint s relative, the 
Prince of Polleca, who attended in the name of 
the Liguori family, and the third to the Rector 
of Pagani. The chest was deposited at the left 
angle of the high altar. Several beautiful 
epitaphs were composed for a mausoleum which 
the Fathers intended to raise to their saintly 
Founder, but as this project was not carried 
out, the door of his vault was closed with a 
simple marble slab, bearing a concise Latin 
inscription, of which the following is a 
translation : 

27 * 








In those days when neither steam nor tele 
graph had come to annihilate space, the news of 
our saint s happy translation to eternal glory was 
slow in reaching the more distant towns and 
hamlets which he had formerly evangelized. 
Many of the people of these places, especially 
the peasants for Alphonsus di Liguori, patrician 
as he was by birth, had always been, like all our 
great and holy churchmen, the friend and 
Father of the working classes and the poor 
thronged the church for many days subsequent 
to the funeral, to pray beside his tomb and touch 
it with their scapulars and rosaries. And the 
little children loved to testify their affection and 
veneration for the gentle Father to whom their 
innocence and candor had endeared them, by 
kneeling near his sacred relics, and kissing, with 
humility and devotion, the sepulchral stone 
which enclosed "the saint." 

Miracles immediately began to glorify the 
memory of the humble servant of God. Wher 
ever he was known or had ever been heard of, 
the sick and the sorrowful were inspired on a 
sudden with an extraordinary sentiment of his 


power before God ; and they felt that he who 
had always testified such tender compassion for 
the corporal and spiritual miseries of poor human 
nature, could and would relieve their sufferings. 
Hundreds of well-authenticated miracles prove 
that the new saint did not disappoint the confi 
dence of his clients. As an appropriate and touch 
ing- tribute to the wonderful innocence of his long 
life, his boisterous friends, the little children, uni 
versally styled him " the saint." And this praise 
literally proceeded also from the mouths of 
infants and sucklings, for a child of a year old, 
who had just been cured of a mortal illness by 
Alphonsus, on being shown his picture, raised 
his little hands and eyes to heaven, and ex 
claimed several times : " The saint is in heaven ! 
Alphonsus the saint! " The infant had never be 
fore uttered a syllable. 


Honors shown to the saint s memory. Testimony of the Arch 
bishop of Palermo. Of Cardinal Benediti. Of the Archbishop 
of Amalfi. Letter of Monsignore Lopez. Magnificent ob 
sequies. Letter from the Bishop of Nusco. The Superior- 
General of the pious workmen. Mother Raphael. The 
modern Francis de Sales. Cardinal Spinelli. The Archbishop 
of Salerno. Other distinguished testimony. Alphonsus a 
model for all orders of the clergy. His extraordinary 
sweetness towards sinners. His life-long propensity to 
magnify the mercy and goodness of God. 

ALL the Redemptorist houses, both in the 
kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Papal States, 
vied with each other in the posthumous honors 
they showered on their sainted Founder; but 
reverence and affection for the great Bishop were 
by no means confined to his more immediate 
children. All the religious congregations to 
which he had ever been affiliated, now proudly 
claimed him as a brother, and no royal personage 
was ever honored with obsequies as magnif 
icent as were everywhere spontaneously cele 
brated for the most zealous doctor. Music, 
painting, poetry, and oratory, of the first order, 
were brought into requisition to commemorate 
one who excelled in all these departments. The 
most distinguished literary men of the day 
delighted to consecrate their worthiest efforts to 
him whom they had long looked upon as their 
greatest glory and honor. A mere collection of 


the orations in which his virtues were extolled, 
and his intercession invoked, would fill a larger 
volume than we have been able to devote to his 
life. As a testimony of the universal veneration 
in which he was held, we shall here make a few 
extracts from the numerous letters of condolence 
which flowed in upon the Fathers of Nocera, 
when it was known that the saint had passed 
from earth, entirely omitting those which were 
written by his own sons, the Redemptorist 

" Let us fearlessly assert," wrote Monsignore 
San Severino, Archbishop of Palermo, " that we 
stand in need of the prayers of the saintly bishop, 
who has now received the reward of his labors, 
his struggles, and his virtues. ... As for me, I 
expect great assistance from him, because he al 
ways loved me during his mortal life. He will 
obtain of God, that I may lead a better life* 
henceforth, and belong wholly to Him." " The 
loss of Monsignore Liguori," wrote Cardinal 
Banditi, " has been felt by me* with a keenness 
proportioned to the great love I bore him. The 
particulars of his death have affected me to tears, 
and the miracles he continues to work in all 
directions prove that he will one day be num 
bered among the saints whom the Church de 
lights to honor." 

" I pray," wrote Monsignore Puoti, Arch 
bishop of Amain, when he heard that his saintly 
brother in the episcopacy was dying, " that 
when the venerable Bishop Liguori shall have 
gone to enjoy the Divine beauty, he will, 


through the great kindness he has ever shown 
me, remember me, and obtain for me a double 
share of his spirit, that I may perform well my 
laborious and difficult ministry, and finish my 
course in the peace of Christ." 

The following is from Monsignore Lopez, 
Bishop of Nola, who was afterwards viceroy 
of Sicily : 

" My soul has been filled with the most lively 
sorrow at the sad tidings of the death of Bishop 
Liguori. I grieve for his loss as much as his 
venerable Congregation do ; if they weep for 
a father and a founder, I weep for a man, worthy 
of the greatest respect for his holiness and learn 
ing; but the bitterness of my sorrow is tempered 
by a firm confidence that God has crowned him 
with the glory of the saints, and that he is now 
our most charitable intercessor in heaven. 

The Fathers having gratefully acknowledged 
the respect shown to their illustrious Founder 
by Monsignore Amato, Bishop of Lacedogna, 
who had magnificent obsequies celebrated in his 
cathedral, he answered Father Villani, September 
22, 1787: 

" I have only performed a duty. I wished to 
honor the memory of our saintly and admirable 
prelate ; and though fully persuaded that he 
needs not our suffrages, I feel bound to have 
many masses offered, to satisfy in a trifling 
degree the great obligations I am under to him." 

" I feel my confidence in his powerful inter 
cession increase," wrote Monsignore Bonaven- 
ture, Bishop of Nusco, " and I more than ever 


invoke him in my spiritual wants. His picture 
I wear around my neck, and I long above all 
things to possess the relic you promised me. 
God is wonderful in his saints. ... I hope, 
despite my extreme misery, to obtain everything 
through the intercession of him whose death we 
unite in deploring, although it is less a subject 
of grief than of joy." 

Father Antonio, Superior-General of the Con 
gregation of Pious Laborers, wrote : " I have 
always regarded Don Alphonsus Liguori as a 
saint, and every member of my Congregation 
shares my sentiments. You ask me to procure 
prayers for him, but you should rather advise 
me to recommend myself -and my brethren to 
him, that he who loved us on earth may con 
tinue to protect us in heaven." 

" The sad news of our common Father s de 
cease has produced in my soul conflicting senti 
ments," wrote that dear daughter of our saint, 
Mother Raphael, superior of the nuns of the 
Most Holy Redeemer at St. Agatha, "sorrow 
because of the loss he will be to the world, and 
joy from the firm conviction I feel that he now 
lives in the mansions of glory, where he will be 
come our intercessor with God." 

Don Mariano Arcieri, who is so celebrated for 
his virtues that it is hoped he may one day be 
raised on our altars, was not at all astonished at 
the miracles which followed the holy bishop s 
death : " I have always considered him a saint, 
said he, " and as such I have recommended my 
self to him even during his life." Arcieri was so 


charmed by the excessive meekness of the saint, 
that he never called him anything but the 
modern St. Francis de Sales. 

Indeed, Alphonsus had been regarded as a 
saint for almost three quarters of a century. 
Cardinal Spinelli wrote of him to one of the 
great Roman Congregations, in 1748: "We can 
truly assert that Don Alphonsus Liguori, a 
Neapolitan chevalier, professor of theology, and 
an indefatigable missionary, merits, as much 
through his rare piety as his extraordinary 
erudition, especially in ecclesiastical matters, to 
receive from the Holy See permission to read 
and retain the works of all prohibited authors." 
Monsignore Rossi Avent so far as to accept 
the archbishopric of Salerno at his request. 
Alphonsus having once asked a certificate for 
some person : " I would not have granted it to 
any one else," said the archbishop, " but my con 
science can repose on your word in perfect se 
curity." The same prelate designated Alphonsus 
to Pope Benedict XIV, as a man of wonderful 
learning, unvarying uprightness, consummate 
prudence, and angelic life. 

The aged Monsignore Giannini sought to be 
directed in all things by the holy Founder, and 
was wont to style himself his son, and beg the 
reluctant saint to treat him as a son. The Bish 
op of Caserto used to call him a perfect mirror 
of justice. Bishop Rosa was accustomed to say: 
" We have a true saint on earth in Don Alphon 
sus Liguori." Canon Barba, who was more or 
less connected with the saint for many years, 


bore him this splendid testimony : " In all the 
varied intercourse I had with him, I saw that his 
life resembled the Lives of the Saints whom the 
Church honors on her altars. He always re 
minded me of a Francis de Sales or a Philip 

The celebrated Don Joseph Jorio once wrote 
to some ecclesiastics who begged him to give a 
mission in their territory : " 1 entreat, I exhort, 
I most earnestly beseech you, to engage Father 
Alphonsus to undertake this work, for he is the 
first missionary in the kingdom for learning and 

x Monsignore Kalifati, the learned Bishop of 
Osia, in one of his works describes his brother 
prelate " as very celebrated in the Church of 
God and in the republic of letters, for prudence, 
zeal, piety, antl vast learning, and for his ex 
cellent works, all which rendered him deserving 
of unbounded praise." 

The learned authors of the Historical Dic 
tionary of Illustrious Men (Venice, 1796) style 
him a truly apostolic man, a perfect ecclesias 
tic, an accomplished model for bishops, and 
a most powerful defender of Christian moral, 
ity ; and speak of his works with unbounded 

The Archbishop of Morreale, in his " Vera 
Sposa," says ; " Monsigrnore Liguori is the hero 
of our age. A priest after God s own heart, a 
man of truly apostolic character, an elegant 
orator, an excellent superior, a tender father, a 
bishop like those of primitive times, The Holy 


Ghost has ever been his guide In imitat 
ing- his Divine Model, he never relaxed. All 
who knew him concur in saying that he was a 
lively and faithful copy of Our Lord Jesus 

The same prelate, in another of his works, styles 
him, " a man of the greatest piety, a most useful 
writer, a judicious and irreproachable theologian, 
a celebrated founder, a truly .great bishop, and 
the apostle of his age," And addressing his 
clergy he continues : " Study then this bishop, 
so highly elevated above his contemporaries by 
the nobility of his birth, his faith, his charity, his 
erudition. His room was like to that which the 
Shunamite woman prepared for the Prophet 
Elias. A bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, com 
prised all its furniture. His food was frugal, he 
retrenched all superfluities thaf he might have 
wherewith to give in alms. . . . The poor ot 
Jesus Christ were his only riches, and the joy of 
his heart." Even in Rome, which the saint 
never visited but once, his name had more 
weight than the names of all the illustrious and 
distinguished scholars that crowded its colleges. 

From every country in Europe testimonials 
highly honorable to the saint reached Nocera. 
His mission was far from being confined to his 
age or country, and this was readily seen by the 
most enlightened of his contemporaries. He was 
set in the Church as a burning and shining light, 
to enlighten the people of his day and all coming 
generations, and to inflame the cold or tepid 
hearts of men with love for the Divine and Eter- 


nal Lover of their souls. He opened anew the 
life-giving sacraments to all Christians, and en 
couraged them to draw waters with joy from the 
fountains of the Saviour. He has instructed with 
the glowing eloquence inspired by his heroic 
charity, the rich and the poor, the learned and 
the ignorant, men and women of every age and 
condition. Penetrated to the very marrow of 
his bones with a life-long horror of sin, he lifts 
up the fallen, he presses the most wretched to his 
innocent heart, he calls the slave of a thousand 
vices, My brother ! Only be resolved to sin no 
more, and he shows you Jesus awaiting you 
with outstretched arms, and even pressing for 
ward to meet his guilty child. It is always Jesus 
an inexhaustible fountain of mercy, love, and 
goodness that he preaches. He indeed reminds 
us of the worm that dieth not, and the fire that 
is never extinguished, and the smoke that ascend- 
eth forever and ever ; still more does he expati 
ate on the rapturous bliss which our own God 
has prepared for those who love him, glory 
unutterable which the eye hath not seen, the ear 
heard, the heart of man conceived ; but the only 
hell which this ardent lover could fear was to be 
separated from Jesus, and the only heaven he 
yearned for, was to repose in the bosom of the 
Father. No wonder then, that the great and 
good of his time vied with each other in testify 
ing affection and veneration for this seraph of 
earth. The saint of unity, the saint of infalli 
bility, the saint of Jesus and Mary, the saint of 
penance, the saint of the eucharist, the man after 


God s own heart what other saint has so many 
claims upon Christians? His sweet and touching 
words resound through the universal Church 
everywhere and forever: My brother, cease to 
sin, avoid the occasions of sin ; our sweetest Lord 
will help you by His grace ; His grace is always 
to be had for the asking ; ask and you shall receive ; 
pray, strive to love Jesus more and more ; come 
to Him by confession, receive Him in communion, 
He loves you, He loves you with an eternal love, 
He longs for your love ; if you be holy, become 
still more holy ; if a sinner, a relapsing sinner, 
yea, a sinner covered with the filth of every 
abomination possible to human depravity incited 
by diabolical ingenuity though your sins be 
red as scarlet He will make them white as wool ; 
He willeth not the death, but the conversion, of 
the sinner; His mercy is above all His works. 
My brother ! come to the Lord Jesus ! He cannot 
spurn the penitent. See His hands and feet 
fastened to a gibbet; it is love for you, my 
brother, that renders the omnipotent God pow 
erless to hurl His thunderbolts on your guilty 
soul. A man of sorrows and acquainted with 
infirmity, He will understand your griefs, your 
struggles, for we have not a high-priest who 
cannot compassionate our miseries. O how well 
does our great bishop follow the counsel of his 
prototype: An ancient man rebuke not t but en 
treat him as a father ; young men as brethren ; old 
women as mothers, young women as sisters : he re 
bukes none, all are his fathers, his mothers, his 
brothers, his sisters they are more, they are his 


children- My little children of whom I am 
again in labor till Christ be formed in you ! 
Verily, it is easy to comprehend the wonderful 
effects which this great voice of one crying in 
the desert of this world must have produced, 
when he depicted to surging multitudes the love 
borne to sinners by Him whom we find true 
when all other loves die or prove false ! Can a 
mother forget her son ? A nd even if she should, 
I will not forgst thee. "Even now, from the cold, 
dead page, do not his words of fire burn into our 
hard, unthankful hearts, disarming criticism with 
their unearthly beauty ; echoes of the commun- 
ings of the Creator with his virgin creatures in 
the paradise of pleasure, or of the divine words 
with which the Incarnate Wisdom of the Father 
consoles the sad hearts of His fallen, but not re 
jected, children : Come to me, all of you that labor 
and are burdened, and I will refresh you. My 
yoke is sweet and my burden light. Foolish and 
slow of heart to believe must we be, if the 
words of this friend of publicans and sinners stir 
not the deepest depths of our hearts. Rather 
may they revive in us faith and hope, that we 
may exclaim with the lepers of the Gospel: "Jesus, 
Master, have mercy on us, "and that, being grateful 
recipients of that mercy which our saint never tires 
of preaching, we may return Him love for love, 
to the end that our many sins may be forgiven 
us, because we love much. 


Alphonsus as a child. His three great sins. Early sympathy 
with the humbler classes. As a priest. "Keep your rules." 
As superior. Remarkable instances of his kindness and 
compassion. A model for bishops. His excessive clemency. 
His love for his subjects. His unbounded confidence in 
them. Instance. Alphonsus as a theologian. His attach 
ment to his clergy. Their love for him. Instances. Accused 
of laxity. Characteristic defence. 

WE shall conclude our sketch of the servant of 
God by glancing at him once more, in the different 
roles in which Providence placed him during 
his prolonged and varied career. 

Alphonsus was, as we have seen, a child of 
benediction. Wherever saints pass they leave 
blessed traces, and as an infant he had been 
caressed, and fondled, and blessed, by the sainted 
Jesuit who afterwards shared with him the 
honors of canonization, and who prophesied that 
he would be a bishop and do great things for 
Jesus Christ. He had a saintly mother, and it is 
to her teachings and example that he was wont 
to attribute anything good in him as a child. 
The office of his festival declares that he never 
sullied his baptismal robe by mortal sin, but his 
confessors believed that he scarcely committed 
even a wilful venial sin. Yet he was naturally 
proud and high-spirited, as the very faults into 
which he fell prove. His three great sins, as he 
used to style them, have been already recorded. 


The first was characteristic. Hearing his father 
scold a poor servant unmercifully for some tri 
fling omission, his natural generosity of soul and 
sympathy with the humbler classes tempted him 
to reproach the Count with making a great 
noise about nothing, a liberty which the haughty 
noble could not brook and for which he struck 
him a blow before several guests. Again he 
bewailed a relaxation of fervor ; and, as the great 
est of his sins, he wept over the excess of dejec 
tion to which he had yielded through wounded 
vanity, when he failed in the last lawsuit he 
undertook. As a child, as a boy, as a young- 
man living amid the gayeties of the world, he is 
a model to all youths, especially those of gentle 
blood like himself, or rather absolutely to all. 

But still more resplendent is the example he 
gives to priests. His life so pure, so holy ; his 
labors, his penances, his hours of prayer before 
the Blessed Sacrament ; but above all, his incom 
parable zeal the Lord Jesus had spoken to his 
heart, and what he heard in the ear, he preached 
on the house-top. In industry few of the saints 
of God equal him, and perhaps none surpass 
him ; his vow, never to waste a moment of time, 
gives some feeble explanation of the life-long toil, 
for the blessed results of which we thank God to 
day. As a student, he might be considered slow. 
In some particular instances, when he had any 
doubt as to whether his views were the exposi 
tion of the divine law, he would write to all 
the learned men of his acquaintance, especially 
those of the Roman Congregations ; but above 


all, he would pray. As a priest, he was always 
to be found at the altar, in the confessional, by 
the bedside of the sick and dying, or instructing 
with tongue or pen the souls which Jesus died 
to save. 

Next, we have St. Alphonsus as a religious, 
Keep your rules ; this is the burden of all his dis 
courses : Fear nothing but sin : this is the epitome 
of all his warnings. There is no instance record 
ed of our saint having ever broken a single rule, 
and this cannot but give us the highest idea of 
his sanctity, since a great pope has not hesitated 
to declare that a religious who faithfully ob 
serves his rule is fit for canonization. 

It is chiefly as Superior that all the beauty of 
the saint s character comes out. He was more a 
father than a ruler, more a mother than a father. 
No one was sad that he did not console ; sick, 
that he did not relieve. The troubles of his chil 
dren were his troubles ; he made his own of their 
gains and their losses ; he invited them to come 
to him at all times ; he corrected them but rarely, 
and his words were full of sweetness and com 
passion. His whole aim was to make them re 
alize that the yoke of the Lord is sweet and his 
burden light, that a day spent in his courts is 
preferable to years passed in the tabernacles of 

He was always urging them, but with ineffable 
sweetness, to become saints. They were his joy 
and his crown. His heart followed them every 
where, and in all their labors they were 
strengthened by his blessing and his prayers. 


His letters, of which we have hundreds, show 
that they were never absent from his mind, and 
that, if possible, he never ceased for a moment to 
interest himself about their welfare. Their 
vocation he was always trying to strengthen and 
confirm; their studies he encouraged and di 
rected ; their pains of mind and body he relieved. 
In writing to rectors, he was always insisting on 
the importance of having the rules perfectly 
observed for his first care was, that his children 
should become saints, and he feared the slightest 
wilful fault more than a hundred persecutions. 
But sweetness and kindness continually mingle 
with his instructions. " I beseech you to govern 
with all possible meekness," he writes to the 
Rector of Caposele ; " treat every one with 
affability and politeness. I recommend this to 
you with the greatest earnestness." And the 
same he continually repeats in one shape or 
another. " I love you, I esteem you, and if I 
have sometimes found a little fault with you, I 
have never doubted your good-will," he writes 
to another rector, who had given him grave 
cause of displeasure. " Treat N. with great 
kindness," he writes to the novice-master, 
" because he is tormented by temptation ; keep up 
his courage. And now that the weather is so 
warm, lessen the exercises of the novices, make 
them go out often, and do not ask them to study 
so much." The saint sometimes speaks sternly 
enough in the circular letters he addresses to his 
dear children, but the severity is sweetened by 
such phrases as these perpetually recurring: 



" God knpweth that each one of you is dearer 
to my heart than my brother and even my 
mother. Each one of you is the object of my 
peculiar affection, for whom I am ready to give 
my blood and my life." " Be attentive to 
Brother N., and see that he is not exposed to 
cold." " I rejoice at what you say of Brother 
Nicholas, but do not allow him to do much until 
his health is completely reestablished." " Make 
Brother B. go out every day, and show him the 
best road." " I do not wish Brother M. to study, 
for fear of a relapse. Make him take out-door 
exercise." " Tell Father de Meo to beware of 
fatiguing himself; I hear his chest is affected." 
" I beseech you not to expose yourself to con 
tract any sickness. Endeavor to preserve your 
health, it is most necessary that you should." 

But we should not soon have done were we to 
transcribe all our saint wrote concerning the 
temporal, and far more, the spiritual welfare of 
his brethren. As a superior we find him always 
on the alert to support, counsel, and befriend 
them, and this he evidently considers his first and 
dearest duty. No father, no mother, ever show 
ed more patience with wild, unreasoning chil 
dren, than Alphonsus showed towards the least 
edifying of his subjects. In their regard, he was 
all patience, all goodness, all hope. He never 
expelled a subject who had not previously ex 
pelled himself; he could, though not very readi 
ly, see their faults, and correct them ; but he was 
powerless to cast one of his children from him. 
In this respect, it seems to us, that he surpassed 


every other saint that governed a community. 
Even when they yielded to the tempter, and, in 
the heat of passion or temptation, asked to go, 
his policy was to gain time, that he might, in 
some way or other, dispel the illusion. 

To a young Father, who for some trifling cause 
had asked a dispensation, he pleasantly wrote : 

"St. Paul the hermit said to St. Anthony, 
who asked him to open the door, if he did not 
wish to find him dead before it, Verily a 
beautiful way of begging ; you beg with a men 
ace ! I say the same to you. You say, " Let 
me do this, otherwise I ask to be released from 
my vows." But who will release you? For the 
love of God, my dear father, do not be so car 
ried away any more. I have compassion on 
you, for it is not you who speak, but the temptation 
wh ich agitates you" 

To Father Tannoia, the novice-master, who 
seems to have been a very strict disciplinarian, 
he wrote the following note, which will explain 

" Once a subject is in the novitiate, he must 
not be sent away without grave reasons; and 
if he have made his vows, the reasons must 
be still graver, and the subject incorrigible ; 
otherwise one sins mortally in dismissing a subject. 

To Father Villani, who showed, in a few in 
stances, an inclination to severity, he wrote on 
the same subject : " To justify expulsion, the 
faults of a subject must be real, deserving of no 
compassion, and leaving no room to hope for 


Verily, that sweet spirit St. Alphonsus would 
not have been half as lax had he been but half as 
holy ! 

We will now quote an instance of forbearance 
unexampled in the annals of religious orders, 
at least in modern times. 

The lay-brother, Francis Tartaglione, being one 
day in the refectory of the Redemptorist house 
at Nocera, became so angry at some remark 
another brother volunteered, that he dashed a 
glass with its contents in his face. Here was 
an unheard-of outrage. The older Fathers 
were not long in deciding on the course to 
be pursued ; but, fortunately for the delinquent, 
Father Alphonsus happened to be at Nocera. 
Previous services rendered to the Congregation, 
and the virtue which he knew this poor brother 
to possess, despite a fiery temper which he had 
worked hard to subdue, inclined the saint to 
recommend .delay ; and the end of it was that the 
brother, instead of being expelled, was seen 
humbly performing a course of penance, and was 
heard from time to time blessing the kindness 
and charity of the good Father who knew so 
well how to pity and forgive his erring but 
repentant son. 

Alphonsus ever showed the greatest respect 
and esteem for his sons, and was not ashamed to 
let them see how tenderly he loved them. In his 
letters he generally addresses them by their 
Christian names. Even Father Villani is simply 
called, " My dear Andrew," but those whose birth 
entitled them to the aristocratic Don usually 


received it from the urbane Rector Major, 
whether in speaking or writing. 

The confidence he placed in his Fathers and 
Brothers was literally unbounded. A miracle of 
truth and candor himself, he was incapable of> 
suspecting the opposite qualities in others ; he 
was even faulty, or at least obstinate, in this 
respect. Witness his conduct with regard to 
Majone. The whole Congregation saw through 
his duplicity, while the saint refused to credit 
the evidence that convinced others, and would 
not believe, till the document was placed in his 
hands which showed him that the Congregation 
was wellnigh ruined. This was the immediate 
cause of the troubles which clouded his latter 
years. Majone s intentions were so glaringly 
evident, that it was easy to convince the inimical 
or the indifferent that the saint was himself a 
party to the changes his treacherous son wrought 
in the rules, in direct violation of his commands. 

As a bishop, Alphonsus is a perfect model for 
every personage raised to that exalted office. 
This will be readily seen by the few details we 
have given of his life at St. Agatha. Other prel 
ates, who assuredly were competent judges, used 
to style him a new St. Charles Borromeo. He 
was completely at the service of his clergy ; he 
wished each of them to recur to him, as to a ten 
der, indulgent father, in every emergency, and he 
always made them understand that his chief busi 
ness was to advise, instruct, assist, and console 
them. His purse was always at their disposal, 
and he seldom accepted even his ordinary dues. 


His vigilance was miraculous ; nothing escaped 
it. The common opinion was, that an angel or a 
devil made known to him every scandal that 
was attempted in his diocese : and, once known, 
he would not rest till the evil was eradicated. 
As a superior, and consequently a judge, no 
human being ever surpassed him in lenity to the 
accused. He gave them the benefit of every 
doubt. He insisted on hearing the sentiments of 
all who had means of knowing the truth. When 
asked, a little before his death, to give consent, as 
Rector Major, to the dismissal of a subject, he 
inquired whether all those who ought to be 
consulted had consented, " for," he continued, 
" if there be a single one of a different opinion , I 
must hear his reasons." 

He governed his priests by loving them, by 
devoting himself entirely to their interests ; and 
never was a bishop more passionately beloved 
by priests and people. Even those whom he had 
withstood with all the apostolic boldness of a per 
fectly fearless character, acknowledged the jus 
tice of his proceedings, and were foremost in be 
wailing his resignation of his see. As for human 
respect, if it be possible for human nature to be 
wholly free from it, he was. When there was 
question of ordaining clerics, or bestowing bene 
fices, he settled the matter according to his own 
conscience, and all the kings of eartlj could not in 
duce him to abate one iota in the qualifications 
he required. Both as bishop and as superior, 
mercy was his prevailing characteristic ; at the 
least sign of repentance, he anticipated a returning 


prodigal, and assumed the greater part of the 
penance himself. When Father Villani insisted 
on expelling a subject who had given him much 
anxiety and trouble, the saint wrote : " I have 
compassion for this poor Father. I know he 
has done very wrong ; but if he repents, we can 
not send away a man who humbles himself sin 
cerely." The poor Father wisely opened his 
whole heart to Alphonsus, who in turn procured 
his pardon from Father Villani. " I have read," 
wrote the saint to this dear child of his heart, 
" all that you have written to me of your trou 
bles. Now then, do all you have promised, and 
be assured that God will more willingly accept 
the little you do amid so much anguish, than if 
you did it in sweetness and consolation. You 
have made great progress, and I bless God for 
having given you such strength . . . Go, then, 
and place yourself in the heart of Jesus. I tell you 
for certain that Jesus and Mary love you." 

It is true that the saint was strict in driving 
away sin, and all occasions of sin, from his sub 
jects ; zeal against sin was, as has been already 
said, his most salient characteristic. It is no less 
true that he insisted that the spirit of the priest 
hood should always and under all circumstances 
be, as it were, palpable, in the favored priests of 
whom he was the tender father and watchful 
shepherd ; it is true, that being himself among 
the most industrious students that ever lived, 
he required that his priests should continually 
study the divine law of which they were the 
exponents; that, having an acquaintance with 


the sacred Scriptures as intimate, perhaps, as any 
theologian ever attained, if not mo